Rome

M5S senator calls Grillo a problem

Leader says attacks on movement to blame

(updates previous) Rome, June 11 - Beppe Grillo, leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), dodged responsibility Tuesday for major losses in local elections across Italy, even as one of his Senators blamed him for public dissatisfaction with the movement. "The outcome of the election is dramatic for Italy," Grillo said on his blog, implying that Italians made poor choices. "Italians, the majority of Italians, they are beginning to lose hope. And this is very sad". But one of his own Senators maintained that Grillo and his political writings are to blame for the poor electoral results. "The problem with the movement is Beppe Grillo," and particularly, his blog posts, said Adele Gambaro, elected to the Senate in February. Grillo, a former comedian, communicates many of his political thoughts via an often angry blog where no holds are barred. The debate was triggered after municipal elections on Sunday and Monday where the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) won all 16 of the major cities and towns that were up for grabs. Meanwhile, the M5S was largely absent from the run-offs after suffering a big fall in support in the first round of voting two weeks earlier. "We are paying for the tone and communications of Beppe Grillo," Gambaro explained in an interview with television network TG24. Grillo should "write less and observe more," Gambaro added. In response, Grillo turned to his blog and asked readers if they agree with Gambaro's assessment. He also refused to see the poor election results as a judgement of his political movement's efforts since it captured around a quarter of the vote in February's general election. He said that other parties have done their best to crush every effort M5S members make to improve their country. "You ask what the M5S has done in recent months," Grillo said in his blog post, listing bills he said his party has tried to present on matters ranging from abolishing grants to newspapers and political parties to election law changes. "I'm ignored, rejected," he added before seeming to lose patience. "The M5S is legalistic, peaceful...What were you expecting? (That) we would set fire to parliament?" Other members of the anti-establishment party have also complained about Grillo's leadership style. Late last year, Grillo expelled two dissidents from the movement, after they accused him of running affairs in an undemocratic manner.

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