Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beppe Grillo - A New Start for Italy?

Beppe Grillo has been a comedian since the mid-1970s. During the 80s his act turned steadily more political as he inveighed against the corruption that was steadily engulfing Italy under its then Socialist prime minister, Bettino Craxi.

"A politician visiting China rang Craxi and said: 'Listen. There's a billion people here. Are they all socialists?'
And Craxi said: 'Yes. Why?'
'Well, who do they steal from?'"

"Who makes up a criminal conspiracy? If you go and look, they are made up of bankers, politicians, judges and, just perhaps, once in a while, a criminal."

"An artist ought never to prostitute himself or herself – except for money."

"They ask me: 'Are you on the left?' I don't know. I've stood still. It's all the others that have moved."

"Life has become a show at which we are the audience – and have to buy a ticket."

In 2010, Grillo started the Five-Star Movement through his popular blog, which has quickly gained traction among a wide swath of people in Italy who are losing jobs, fed up with austerity measures, and disillusioned with both sides of the political spectrum. With the initial plan to form a lose group to represent people who are dissatisfied with the current political system, Grillo has inadvertently shut down parliament.

Since the Five-Star Movement is not part of one of the two major coalitions, Grillo was never going to be in a position of power. But the ruckus he’s caused has forced Italian politicians to take him seriously, and even try to bring him into the fold. As of this writing, the Guardian has reported that Bersani has publically reached out to Grillo, asking him to join his coalition. They may not want Grillo around but they have no other choice.

Even more amazing is that Grillo gained all this support without the help of traditional media – he refused to take part in debates, did not grant interviews, and gathered his supporters through his blog and social media.

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