Italy paralysed as Grillo plots exit route from euro

Italy plunged deeper into political chaos this weekend after Beppe Grillo, the quixotic former comedian who holds the balance of power in parliament, suggested that the country may have to abandon the euro and return to the lire.

The rebel comic’s warning came amid a growing rebellion among grass-roots supporters of his Five Star Movement, with 150,000 signing a petition calling for him to open up dialogue with the centre-Left Democratic Party, the biggest force in parliament. Continue reading

Prepare for a new ride on eurozone’s rollercoaster as Italy tires of austerity

For three or four months, European leaders have been confidently proclaiming the crisis essentially over. It seems they spoke too soon, as indeed they always seem to in this long-running euro-soap.

Last time a political crisis threatened to undermine the euro, the response was to impose unelected technocratic governments on the offending nations. It won’t be so easy this time around. Italians are in open rebellion, with Mario Monti’s pro-reform Civic Choice finishing a distant fourth in the elections. Italians have voted en masse against Berlin’s prescriptive austerity agenda.

The left-leaning Pier Luigi Bersani is still hoping to form a minority government, possibly with support from the comedian Beppe Grillo. Please don’t laugh: this is serious. They’ll make odd partners. The dull Mr Bersani could hardly be more different, yet to him almost anything would be preferable to leaping into bed with Silvio Berlusconi, which is the alternative. Whatever. Continue reading