Rome, April 11 - Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), said Thursday he would donate money left over from his election campaign tour to earthquake victims in Emilia Romagna. "We must decide whether to implement a project or give a cheque to the worst-affected municipality," said Grillo in reference to damage caused by two earthquakes respectively measuring magnitude 5.9 and 5.8 that struck the northern Emilia Romagna region on May 20 and 29, 2012. The powerful quakes and their aftershocks killed a total of 27 people, injured several hundred and left thousands homeless. "But perhaps it is best to give the money to a mayor, whose name would be made public. The project would take too long". M5S collected 774,208 euros in private donations for its two-month pre-election Tsunami Tour, which saw the firebrand leader make packed public appearances up and down the country. Of this amount, only 348,506 euros were actually spent, of which around 140,000 euros in consultancy fees, nearly 60,000 euros in campaign posters, 50,000 euros for Google advertising and 52,000 euros for the stage at the closing event in Rome's Piazza S. Giovanni, M5S said Thursday. Grillo has posted the figures and names of donors on his blog. M5S took around 25% of the consensus in recent general elections in what was widely seen as a protest vote and now effectively holds the balance of power in a hung parliament.
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di Giovanni Pastore