Grillo claims parties have staged 'coup'

Senate and House sit-in by M5S to last until midnight Tuesday

Grillo claims parties have staged 'coup'

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, April 9 - Senators belonging to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) started a sit-in inside the Senate Tuesday to protest against the failure to launch the Italian parliament's commissions after February's inconclusive general election. "We will stay on the floor and read the Constitution and the rules of the Senate," M5S Senate Whip Vito Crimi said. House members of the M5S have vowed to do the same. The M5S holds the balance of power in parliament after capturing a huge protest vote in February but has refused to make any deals with the established parties on forming a new government, which has led to political deadlock. M5S leader Beppe Grillo has said Italy does not need to be in a rush to have a new government, arguing parliament can pass key reforms, such as a new election law to replace the much-criticised one that failed to produce a winner. In the meantime outgoing Premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat administration can continue to take care of everyday government business, according to comedian-turned-politician Grillo. But Grillo's hopes of seeing parliament operating at close-to-full capacity even without a new government have not come to fruition because the new commissions that are vital for passing laws have not been set up. Grillo demanded parliament's new commissions be set up immediately and accused the established parties of staging a "coup". He said that the claim that the commissions cannot be set up until a new government is sworn in was a "lie" used by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) to stop M5S introducing reforms that would truly change the country. Reforms that Grillo said must be put forth include the application of an ineligibility law that would exclude Berlusconi from politics, a conflict-of-interest law and a bill to scrap public funding of political parties with retroactive effect. "The coup started years ago," Grillo wrote on his popular blog, which gave birth to the Internet-based M5S in 2009. "It's a coup in broad daylight to delegitimize and empty parliament. Italy is no longer a parliamentary republic, as stipulated in the Constitution, but a party republic... "There is no Constitutional impediment or impediment of any type that stops them (the commissions) being set up, but the parties don't want them. "The reason is simple. Now there's a newcomer to parliament, an unforeseen event, the M5S, which wants to launch a series of laws as soon as possible that are like garlic for vampires to the PD and the PdL". He said that if the commissions are not set up Italy risked a year of parliamentary paralysis. "The country is collapsing and legislative activity is on hold. It's suicide," said Grillo, adding that the parties should be put in the hands of special commissioners if the commissions are not launched. "Parliament must go back to being sovereign". However, Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso on Friday said it would not be possible to convene the parliamentary commissions until a new executive has taken over because, until then, it is not "possible to distinguish between the (ruling) majority and the opposition". The M5S is not convinced and the movement's MPs have said they will stay in the parliament after Tuesday's debates until one minute past midnight local time. "We want a fresh beginning with the rules as the staring point," said M5S House Whip Roberta Lombardi. Even though the M5S has contributed to the impasse, Lombardi said the movement was not in favour of returning to the polls in June to break the deadlock, because of the cost of holding another vote so soon after the last one.

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