Five Star member calls for euro referendum 

Five Star member calls for euro referendum 


Beppe Grillo: Source: Wikimedia

A leading member of the Italian populist Five Star Movement (M5S) has demanded a referendum Italy’s membership of the euro, suggesting it could become a key issue in the next general election.

Alessandro Di Battista, 38, told Germany’s Die Welt that he did not want Italy to leave the EU but he did back a referendum on the euro.

“The euro and Europe are not the same thing. We only want for Italians to decide on the currency,” Battista told the newspaper.

Analysts warn that leaving the euro would endanger the Italian and global markets.

Battista said that he “understood well the consequences of the introduction of the euro”. The single currency, he said, had decreased Italian purchasing power and earnings and sparked unemployment and “social deprivation”.

“If Europe does not want to implode you must accept that you cannot go on like this,” the potential party leader said.

Last week the prime minister, Matteo Renzi, announced.

An early election is expected next year with Renzi mentioning February as a possibility.

M5S, which is led by the comedian Beppe Grillo, is Italy’s second most popular party, behind Renzi’s left-of-centre Democratic Party. It won two significant mayoral elections in Turin and Rome this summer.

M5S’s chances of winning the next election are good, according to pollsters but to hold a referendum would depend on securing majorities in both parliamentary houses.

That may depend on the contentious electoral law that is under legal review and will dictate how parliamentary seats will be allocated at the next election. The constitutional court is set to rule on the electoral law on January 24.

Unless parliamentarians fashion a fresh electoral law for the upper house, Italy risks going to the polls with one set a rules for electing the lower Chamber of Deputies and another for the Senate. Many political leaders predict that would invite electoral deadlock.

The defeated constitutional reforms would have made the Senate no longer elected by voters.

“This is pure M5S. Being for ‘direct democracy’ … they don’t take a position and call for a referendum. This allows them to be both black and white. In our present political condition, this is pure genius,” said Giovanni Orsina, a political scientist at LUISS University in Rome.

Federico Santi of the Eurasia Group said the membership of the euro could become a key battleground.

“What we have seen lately is a constant focus on the EU and how it limits what Italy can do to handle the banking crisis, which is portrayed as having a negative impact on households,” Santi explained.


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