Grillo Faces Regional Vote Defeat After Faulting Napolitano Deal

Five Star Movement Leader Beppe Grillo
Five Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo said on his blog, “The republic, the one that’s supposed to be democratic and based on work, has died.” Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Beppe Grillo, head of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement, is facing defeat in a regional vote after condemning a deal by political rivals to give President Giorgio Napolitano a second term.

Five Star’s Saverio Galluccio had 20 percent of the vote in the northeastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia with 64 percent of precincts reporting, placing him third, according to results posted on the region’s website. Debora Serracchiani of the Democratic Party led a coalition with 40 percent, while a group of parties headed by Renzo Tondo of Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty had 38 percent.

The Friuli ballot gave Italians a first chance to weigh in on the wrangling since inconclusive national elections on Feb. 24-25. Grillo’s party, which got 27 percent of the Friuli vote in February, has steered clear of compromise with its rivals while the Democratic Party and People of Liberty struck the bargain April 20 that secured Napolitano, 87, a new mandate.

“The republic, the one that’s supposed to be democratic and based on work, has died,” Grillo said on his blog after the parliamentary vote for Napolitano, the first post-World War II head of state to be re-elected. “Five Star has become the only opposition, the only possible instrument of change.”

Friuli, situated on the Slovenian and Austrian borders, is home to coffeemaker Gruppo Illy SpA, Assicurazioni Generali SpA, Italy’s biggest insurer, and the Adriatic port of Trieste. It ranks eighth in income per capita among the 21 regions recognized by Italy’s statistics office and recognizes as official the languages of Italian, Furlan, Slovenian and German.

Friuli Split

The Friuli vote was split nearly evenly among the three biggest parties in the February ballot, with 28 percent going to Berlusconi and the Democratic Party, like Five Star, getting 27 percent. Five Star, founded by Grillo with the mission to sweep established parties from power, finished third nationally in February with a quarter of the votes.

“What happened in Parliament in the last few days is likely to have direct consequences on the final outcome,” said Maurizio Pessato, chief executive officer of SWG Srl, a Trieste-based pollster. “Moreover, as this is the first election since the national vote and the first time the Five Star runs here for the regional government, it’s a very important test.”

The emergence of Grillo pushed Berlusconi, a billionaire former prime minister, and the Democratic Party, led by outgoing General Secretary Pier Luigi Bersani, to put aside their rivalry and strike a partnership. Napolitano, 87, who was sworn in today for a new seven-year term after Grillo’s choice for president, Stefano Rodota, was defeated in a parliamentary vote thanks to the partnership between Berlusconi and Bersani.

Coalition Sign

The Napolitano appointment may be the first step toward forming a parliamentary majority capable of supporting a government to replace the caretaker administration of Prime Minister Mario Monti.

The yield on Italy’s two-year note fell to a record low 1.233 percent, while the 10-year yield fell 17 basis points to 4.058 percent, the least November 2010.

Grillo’s best performance in a regional election was the Sicilian vote in October, where Five Star, while receiving more votes than any single party, finished behind a coalition of parties loyal to the Democratic Party.

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