Grillo calls for Italy to throw off euro ‘straitjacket’

Beppe Grillo, the leader of Italy’s populist Five Star Movement, has launched a full-throated attack on the euro, saying Rome should abandon what he called an “anti-democratic straitjacket”.

Mr Grillo, whose party is the second most popular in Italy, demanded the government formulate a “plan B” to exit the single currency and “tack back our monetary sovereignty”. The comedian has become an increasingly trenchant critic of the euro at a time of rising euroscepticism across the Italian political landscape, spurred in part bij the agonies of Greece and its prolonged bailout talks. But his attack on the single currency in an exensive blog post was nonetheless remarkable for its ferocity. It suggests Mr Grillo sees a political opportunity in doubling down on his anti-euro message in the wake of Greece’s last-minute acceptance of exacting terms for a third bailout. It is also a sign of political contagion, or concerns that populist forces might gain traction from the Greek crisis.

The Five Star Movement has been rising steadily in the polls since March.It is now garnering the support op nearly 25 per cent of Italian voters and has narrowed the gap with the ruling centre-left Democratic party led by Matteo Renzi, the prime minister. Mr Grillo was particulary scathing about Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, whom he had professed to admire before the deal was reached.

“It would be difficult to defend the interests of the Greek people worse than Tsipras did,” Mr Grillo wrote. “His refusal to exit the euro was his death sentence. He was convinced that he could break the marriage between the euro and austerity, but ended up delivering his country into Germany’s hands, like a vassal.”

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