21st Oct 2016


Italy's Grillo wants disloyal MEPs to pay hefty fine

Adopting a novel way to enforce discipline, Italy's Five Star Movement, expected to capture the largest share of mounting Eurosceptic sentiment in Italy, has asked candidates for next month's European Parliament elections to commit to paying a fine of €250,000 in case of disloyalty to the movement.

On Friday, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) of comedian Beppe Grillo unveiled a list of 73 would-be MEPs ahead of the May 25 vote.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Beppe Grillo in rallying mode (Photo: Liwax)

They were selected through an online ballot, restricted to party members registered before July 2013.

Dario Tamburrano, a 43-year-old dentist from Rome who supports anti-consumerist degrowth economic theory, was the most popular nominee, with 1,880 votes.

His priority, he said in a presentation video on YouTube, is to scrap austerity rules, so that leaving the eurozone would no longer "become an absolute necessity for Italy and other European countries, but remain just an option".

According to current polls, some 25 M5S candidates could make it to the EU assembly in the May elections.

Once in office, Grillo said they would be forced to resign if found in "serious breach" of the party's code of conduct, which includes an obligation to hire staff vetted by Grillo's political side-kick, Gianroberto Casaleggio, or if criminally convicted.

Failing that, they would be asked to pay the €250,000 penalty, which would be devolved to charity.

It would be up to party activists, through online voting procedures modelled on the US recall system, to demand the resignation of offending MEPs.

Giorgio Sorial, a national M5S lawmaker, defended the controversial initiative as "a way to prevent people who get to that place [the European Parliament] from being corrupted by money, forcing them to keep their feet on the ground and to listen to the voice of the citizens".

However, it is unclear how the rules could be enforced, given that under Italy's constitution elected politicians enjoy a free mandate, protecting their right to break from their party ranks if and whenever they see fit.

The M5S's Europe manifesto calls for a referendum on Italy's continued euro membership, the abolition of the fiscal compact and other euro austerity straightjackets, as well as the introduction of eurobonds and preferential treatment for domestic produce over imported food.

In the Italian parliament, the M5S has suffered from several defections by deputies and senators who have denounced Grillo's autocratic and uncompromising style.

Despite those setbacks, the 65-year-old maverick remains the biggest rival for the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

"If you are not intelligent, honest and democratic, vote for him," Grillo said of the premier, during one of the fundraising rallies he is holding in theatres up and down the country, attracting large crowds that pay entrance tickets of up to €30 each.

On Friday, the Ixe polling institute said support for both the PD and the M5S, at 32.8 and 25.5 percent respectively, was rising, while the conservative Forza Italia of scandal-prone former premier Silvio Berlusconi was bleeding support, at 16.9 percent.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity