Rome

Grillo spits venom, opposes citizenship reform

M5S leader accuses govt of 'coup d'etat'

Grillo spits venom, opposes citizenship reform

Rome, May 10 - Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), attacked the legitimacy of the fledgling left-right government on Friday and said he did not support one of its minister's high-profile initiatives to grant automatic citizenship to children born in Italy to immigrant parents. Comedian-turned-politician Grillo, whose movement won around a quarter of the vote in February's general elections, said there were no other laws of this kind in Europe, "aside from some extremely tightly regulated exceptions". "A decision that can change the geography of the country can't be left to a little group of parliamentarians," Grillo added on his blog, calling for reform of this kind to be put to a referendum. The proposal to reform Italy's citizenship laws was put forth by Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, the country's first black minister, whose appointment has triggered a series of racist attacks. Italy and AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli has said he is willing to be an advocate of Kyenge's campaign for citizenship reform. The 22-year-old was born in Sicily to parents from Ghana and only obtained his Italian citizenship when he turned 18, although he grew up with Italian parents from the north of the country who adopted him. Grillo also made waves by accusing the newly formed government of committing a "coup d'etat" by forging what critics have called an unholy left-right alliance that includes members of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party in key posts. "They put us in a corner," saud Grillo. "Four of them met up one night to decide. This is the continuation of the Monti agenda," Grillo said, referring to Letta's predecessor Mario Monti. Monti's government of unelected technocrats passed austerity measures that have been blamed for exacerbating Italy's current recession, the country's worst in 20 years. The premier lashed out against Grillo in response, calling his comments "totally unacceptable" in a press conference held with European Parliament Speaker Martin Schulz. "Remember that when (Grillo) used the term 'coup d'etat', a Chilean journalist explained to him what a coup d'etat really is and made a fool out of him," Letta added. Grillo countered by calling Letta "a kept man of politics" for being the nephew of Silvio Berlusconi's longtime right-hand man, Gianni Letta. "How should I perceive someone who's a professional nephew? We won't accept his moral lessons, not from a man who holds on to 46 million euros in public campaign finances," said Grillo. The M5S party refuses to accept any public funds for its campaigns unlike Letta's center-left Democratic Party (PD).

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