Rome

Grillo blasts Italians who didn't vote for M5S

Anti-establishment movement suffers setback in local elections

Grillo blasts Italians who didn't vote for M5S

Rome, May 28 - Beppe Grillo on Tuesday blasted Italians who did not vote for his anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) after it performed badly in local elections. The M5S, which captured around a quarter of the vote in February's general election, failed to make the run-off votes in any of the mayor cities among over 500 municipalities that voted in their new councils on Sunday and Monday. Its only success was in the Sardinian town of Assemini, where the M5S candidate came second to qualify for a run-off ballot. The centre-left Democratic Party, which was badly hit by internal rifts during the long post-election deadlock that culminated with it reluctantly joining forces with Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party so Premier Enrico Letta's government could be formed last month, did best in the local elections. The PD captured five provincial capitals outright in the first round of voting and came first in almost all the others, including the capital Rome, ahead of run-offs in two weeks' time. Grillo said on his popular blog, which gave life to the Internet-based M5S in 2009, that the election results were determined by people who "vote for themselves first and then for the country". The comedian-turned-politician said these people - local politicians, civil servants and pensioners who he said made up "Italy A" - may be forced to rethink in the autumn, when he expects major economic problems and social unrest. "The cold autumn is near and perhaps, by then, Italy A will realise that by voting for those who give reassurances, but in reality have destroyed the country, they are condemning us to taking a road of no return," said Grillo. The results of Sunday and Monday's vote represented the first major defeat in the short life of the M5S, which is against the established party system that Grillo says has produced corruption and recession. Some say the outcome was in part down to the intransigent line Grillo adopted after February's election ended in a virtual tie between the PD, the PdL and the M5S. Grillo refused to consider forming a government with the PD, which he considers a tainted part of a discredited system. But some M5S voters said this meant an opportunity was missed to pass reforms to make Italy's public life more transparent and to consign Berlusconi to the margins of Italy's political arena. Grillo admitted that the M5S has "made mistakes, who knows how many" but stressed that his movement was unique as it has returned 42 million euros in election funding to the State. Voter turnout in the capital was down more than 20%, with only 52.78% of Romans cast ballots over a two-day voting period, down from 73.52% at the last mayoral elections in 2008. In elections in 564 towns and cities across Italy Sunday and Monday, voter turnout was 62.38% of the eligible population, down almost 15 points.

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