5-Star Movement tries to move on after painful ejection

'Not a victory, but a necessity' says Senate whip

5-Star Movement tries to move on after painful ejection

(By Christopher Livesay) Rome, January 20 - The 5-Star Movement (M5S) began to regroup Thursday after voting to expel a Senator for criticizing the anti-establishment bloc's leader and founder, Beppe Grillo. Kicking out Adele Gambaro, elected to the Senate in February, "was not a victory" but a necessity, the M5S's Senate whip said. "It was simply the recognition of a necessity to correct an error," Nicola Morra told Italian Radio Radicale. In an online poll Wednesday of the party's 48,292 rank and file, 65.8% voted in favor of expelling Gambaro, who blamed Grillo for the party's poor showing at recent local elections across the country. Grillo had first asked her to step down, but she refused with the support of a several MPs from her party. Roberto Fico, a high-ranking 5-Star MP, said he did not foresee any more expulsions. "I don't see any kind of problems on the horizon," he told Italian Radio 24 when asked about other expulsions. On Tuesday another M5S lawmaker, MP Paola Pinna, risked being ejected after party colleagues denounced her for alleging there was a "climate of thought-crime policing" in the Internet-based movement. The case of Gambaro and other so-called dissidents have marked a defining moment in the movement, which has prided itself on the near monolithic unity that helped launch it to a stunning success in February general elections when it won roughly 25% of the popular vote. Since then, however, the party flopped at recent local elections in which the center left swept all provincial capitals up for grabs, including Rome, prompting Gambaro's fateful remarks about her party's leader. Gambaro said Grillo, whose opposition to compromise with other parties helped prolong a two-month stalemate in parliament earlier this year, had become "a problem for the movement". The affair exposed a number of internal rifts in the party, and some suspect a formal schism is imminent. In the meantime Gambaro is considering joining the so-called "Mixed Group" of independents and tiny parties in parliament. "I think so. I haven't thought about it yet," the Senator told Italian Radio Radicale. "After the expulsion, I think so, after seeing what happened to Senator Marino Mastrangeli, who went to the Mixed Group". Mastrangeli was voted out of the party in April for breaking a ban on appearing on television chat shows. Despite her expulsion, Gambaro said relations were still good with "the majority of my colleagues, with almost everyone". "There weren't any personal problems," she added.

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