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Italian Vote ‘Catastrophe for Europe,’ Luxembourg Minister Says

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Italian voters delivered a “catastrophe for Europe” by casting more than half their ballots for two candidates opposed to an austerity-based remedy to the debt crisis, Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Jean Asselborn said.

“This is a catastrophe for Europe for two reasons,” Asselborn said today in a telephone interview. “There are a lot of people in Italy, in Europe, who think that Europe is at fault for the problems in Italy. Europe is the answer to what needs to be done. Second, I have very serious doubts that with populism, it will be possible to find a solution to create a certain stability in Italy.”

Italians, voting in the first general election since 2008, withdrew support from lawmakers who backed outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s 15-month program of deficit reduction. The four-way race ended inconclusively after Beppe Grillo, a self-described populist, and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, built blocking parliamentary minorities and denied a clear path to government for Monti or Pier Luigi Bersani.

“I am not defending Monti or Bersani,” said Asselborn. “I cannot see what the plan of Berlusconi or of Grillo is to solve the problem.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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