IRELAND’S ITALIAN population has voted to reject their native country’s traditional political rivals – and has instead offered majority support to a TV comedian leading a new anti-establishment platform.
Election results published by Italy’s Interior Ministry show that the ‘Five Star Movement’ – led by comedian Beppe Grillo, which did not even exist when Italians last voted – topped the polls for both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
The movement is largely online-based, and runs on a platform of advocating direct democracy – with free access to the internet considered a human right by the party.
It is largely Eurosceptic, believing that too much power has been handed over to Europe, and wants to pull out of the euro.
It has also lobbied heavily in favour of term limits for members of parliament, and believes anyone with a criminal conviction should be disqualified from membership – including its own founder, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a car crash in 1980.
The movement won 31.1 per cent of the Irish vote in the crucial Senate election, ahead of the Democratic Party of Pier Luigi Bersani – who had been considered the most likely prime minister before the votes were counted – on 29.1 per cent.
Mario Monti’s newly-formed political party won 19.2 per cent of the vote, with Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom taking only 10.9 per cent.
About 2,500 people – or 42 per cent of eligible voters – took part in the postal ballot.
In the last election, in 2008, Irish voters had supported the Democratic Party by a significant majority – beating Berlusconi’s party by 42.4 per cent to 31.4 per cent. Since then, the Democratic vote has shrank by nearly a third, and the Berlusconi vote by two-thirds.
Ireland forms part of a broader ‘European’ constituency, where partial Senate count results gave Bersani’s Democratic Party 32.1 per cent of the vote, ahead of Mario Monti’s 29.67 per cent. Berlusconi’s took 18.4 per cent, while Grillo’s Five Star Movement came fourth overall, with 13.6 per cent.
The margins were broadly replicated in elections for the Chamber, though with Grillo’s movement claiming a larger margin of support.