Beppe Grillo Says No Deal

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Feb. 27 2013 8:33 AM

Grillo Rules Out Joining Government—Grand Coalition or Bust for Italy

Five Stars movement's leader and former comedian Beppe Grillo arrives to vote at a polling station in St. Ilario near Genova on Feb. 25, 2013.
Five Stars movement's leader and former comedian Beppe Grillo arrives to vote at a polling station in St. Ilario near Genova on Feb. 25, 2013.

Photo by Fabio Muzzi/AFP/Getty Images

With the Democratic Party firmly in control of Italy's lower house and a very divided field in the upper house, one of the two mathematically possible coalitions was for the Democrats to form a coalition with Beppe Grillo's populist anti-austerity 5 Star Movement. Today Grillo ruled that out, meaning the only workable coalition would be a "grand coalition" between the Democrats and Silvio Berlusconi's party.

That seems exceedingly unlikely, as the basic state of Italian politics is that the Democrats view Berlusconi as a criminal.

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Meanwhile, Peer Steinbrueck, who leads Germany's opposition Social Democrats, declared himself "appalled that two clowns have won" the election in Germany—referring to Berlusconi and Grillo.* That's a reminder that though Italy is certainly still a democratic republic whose voters can elect whomever they want, the only choices actually acceptable to Germany are the left-wing-but-committed-to-austerity Democrats and Mario Monti.

* Correction: This post initially said Steinbrueck referred to Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani as a clown, when he was referring to Grillo.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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