Rome

Grillo rallies 5-Star Movement for possible elections

Anti-establishment eyes govt collapse over Berlusconi ouster

Grillo rallies 5-Star Movement for possible elections

Rome, August 26 - Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anit-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), rallied his party Monday for elections if the fragile left-right government collapses over ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's pending ban from office or a decision on the future of an unpopular property tax. "Now there's no time left. Either (the government) is out or the country's out. There's no middle ground. Let's prepare to win at elections," said Grillo in a blog post to members of his Internet-based movement. The M5S performed remarkably well in February elections, capitalizing on widespread disillusion with what they portrayed as a detached and ineffective political class. With a slim post-election majority, the center-left pleaded with the M5S to forge a majority alliance, which the M5S flatly refused, forcing two months of political gridlock. The stalemate was finally broken when the PD agreed to an unnatural alliance with its longtime enemy the People of Freedom (PdL) party of Berlusconi, whose threats to bring down the alliance if it did not repeal a property tax known as IMU have plagued the fragile union since its conception. The left-right alliance was made even more unstable August 1 when, for the first time in nearly 20 years of legal problems, Berlusconi was definitively convicted, this time for tax fraud. Part of the sentence includes stripping the three-time premier of his Senate seat, something the PdL says it cannot tolerate. The cabinet will meet Wednesday to decide the fate of IMU, and the Senate will vote next month on the future of Berlusconi's cabinet seat. Either issue, should the outcome go against Berlusconi, could prompt the PdL to pull its support from the government, forcing new elections.

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