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Elections

Time for an Italian grand coalition?

After an electoral drama in which the Democratic Party came close to self-destruction, a broad-based coalition is looking likely. In Rome, it's not just supporters of the Five Star Movement who are taking to the streets.

Five Star Movement supporters shout slogans and hold banners reading PD sold to Berlusconi and Rodota is my president outside the Italian Parliament

Five Star Movement supporters shout slogans and hold banners reading "PD sold to Berlusconi" and "Rodota is my president" outside the Italian Parliament

Tutti a casa - "All of you go home," protesters screamed with raised fists outside the parliament in Rome. There were many young faces present, and families as well. Sympathizers, voters and members of former comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement were there - but not only them. Disappointed followers of the "Democratic Party" (PD) also vented their anger at the square in front of the parliament building.

They called Pierluigi Bersani, who resigned from the post of party secretary, a traitor. He had betrayed the wishes of his electorate for change, said protester Pino Crasto, who declared his intention to vote for Beppe Grillo in the next election.

Grillo and Berlusconi strengthened

Grillo is widely considered the winner of the presidential election - alongside Silvio Berlusconi, whose holding out the prospect of a possible grand coalition managed to split the left.

Grillo's Five Star Movement voted for its presidential candidate, law professor Stefano Rodota, in all six rounds. This reflects transparency and consistency - unlike the PD parliamentarians. So many of them withheld their allegiance from their party secretary that their candidate failed miserably.

Five-Star Movement leader and comedian Beppe Grillo

Grillo continues to play a significant role after election wins

The PD no longer exists, several members stated after former Prime Minister Romano Prodi withdrew his candidacy of. Most recently, Bersani had to agree with Monti and Berlusconi to a renewed candidacy of 87-year-old Giorgio Napolitano to push through a candidate at all.

"It's a shame, what a ridiculous image we have created in Europe - absurd," complained Giuseppe Paglia, who was active for 20 years in left-wing municipal politics in Lombardy and now wears the emblem of the Five Star Movement on his jacket collar.

He gave a quick, worried smile at the many young faces around him. He said he thinks it's a good thing that the "under-40 generation" is politically active. "People want change, renewal. But what do the politicians do? Is this what renewal looks like? The PD should have replaced their leaders earlier."

PD looking for new leadership

Paglia was alluding to Matteo Renzi, the young mayor of Florence with aspirations to party leader. For months, he has led an internal struggle against Pierluigi Bersani. Now, he's considered the crown prince.

Paglia vigorously agreed with this assessment. "Renzi wants to give the boot to the old people in the party, and he's right. People who've been sitting there for 30 years." In this case, "there" means the palazzo in which politicians batten down the hatches against the citizenry, as if in a bunker.

While Italy's economy continues its downward spiral - in the first three months of the year, more than 4,000 companies went bankrupt - and Italians' purchasing power decreased by 5 percent within one year, politicians appear to be playing as many power games as ever.

"We are tired of it. I can see how bad it is for the people who have lost their jobs," said Annarita Pece, who runs a newspaper kiosk at a shopping center north of Milan.

Second term?

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano

Napolitano didn't actually want to serve another term as president

Napolitano was not keen on a second term, he had repeatedly emphasized. But as he said, he "ultimately could not escape the responsibility," as this was apparently the only way for a government to be formed.

Italian newspapers said that before his candidacy, Napolitano received assurances from Bersani, Monti and Berlusconi that they would form a coalition - and that sent out shockwaves. After his electoral victory without a majority government, Bersani had announced he would not form a coalition with Berlusconi's PDL party under any circumstances.

Nothing's possible without Berlusconi - especially now, after the PD's rejection of the Five Star Movement's preferred candidate Rodota. And this has pushed the Five Star Movement even more in the direction of an opposition.

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