Rome, June 18 - MPs of the 5-Star Movement (M5S) have voted to expel a Senator for questioning their anti-establishment leader Beppe Grillo but opted to give the final word to party members through an online poll. In a late meeting Monday, M5S parliamentarians voted 79 in favor and 42 against kicking Senator Adele Gambaro out of the party for questioning Grillo's leadership by calling him "a problem for the party" after its poor showing in recent local elections. With an additional nine MPs abstaining, the vote was a sign of widening divisions in the party over its hardline with respect to compromising with other blocs in parliament. Those who voted to defy Grillo, who called on Gambaro to step down, are believed by many to be on the verge of defecting to the center-left Democratic Party. "Whatever the result (of the Gambaro affair), we gave ourselves a nice kick in the teeth," said M5S Senator Bulgarelli, who abstained from the vote.
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di Giovanni Pastore