* "I'm not worried about financial markets" - Grillo
* Some suggest 5-Star, like Greece's SYRIZA, could lose
* Frustration, disgust with political class fuelled movement
By Steve Scherer and Naomi O'Leary
ROME, Feb 26 The only Italians celebrating the
deadlocked outcome of Monday's election were supporters of comic
Beppe Grillo, whose 5-Star Movement steamrolled into parliament
and sparked fears that Italy could reject austerity and even the
No group secured a majority in the upper house, making the
formation of a government dependent on post-election alliances,
but Grillo's movement caused a shock by winning 8.7 million
votes in the lower house, making it the country's largest single
party and shocking world investors.
"I'm not worried about financial markets," 5-Star activist
Alessandra Pinci, 39, told Reuters. "I'm very happy. It was time
for some change in this country."
Some suggested the 5-Star Movement would echo the fate of
the far-left SYRIZA party in Greece in 2011, which became a
leading party on an anti-austerity platform and led to a hung
parliament. Greek voters back-pedalled in a new election a month
later and elected a centre-right party that promised to keep the
country in the EU.
"Italy is the mirror of Greece," Chiara Vulpis, a
20-year-old student in Rome who voted for the centre-left, told
Reuters. "Many who voted Grillo may not vote again. I don't want
to insult anyone, but they don't have solid ideas and could
change their minds one day to the next."
The movement's agenda contains a potluck mix, from providing
free Internet access to boosting education spending. Grillo has
also proposed a referendum on the euro, but the movement's main
goal has is get rid of Italy's old political guard.
Grillo's top targets have been centre-right leader Silvio
Berlusconi, who he calls the "psycho dwarf", Prime Minister
Mario Monti, or "Rigor Montis" and the easygoing centre-left
chief Pier Luigi Bersani.
In this weekend's vote, the 5-Star movement took a giant
step toward its goal of cleaning out the old guard, putting more
than 160 complete political novices in parliament.
"The political system has fallen," Grillo declared outside
his home on the Ligurian coast in northern Italy on Tuesday. The
movement gathered steam as Grillo toured Italy in a camper van,
drawing huge crowds to outdoor rallies building up to the vote.
The movement drew Italians increasingly shut out of
permanent full-time jobs, disgusted with political waste and
corruption, and frustrated with growth-smothering austerity.
"I was convinced the 5-Star Movement would cause a shock in
the election because outrage with the political class has
reached boiling point," Vincenzo Cannizzaro, a 48-year-old
accountant in Palermo, told Reuters.
On Monday night at the PD's campaign headquarters in central
Rome, a large black sack filled with celebratory balloons and
confetti remained suspended, unused, from the ceiling. Bersani
left without speaking a word.
Just a mile away, the 5-Star Movement candidates were
assailed by television cameras and photographers for the first
time in their lives as they gathered in a pizzeria to celebrate.
One future lawmaker, 34-year-old Alessandro Di Battista,
awkwardly sipped a tall glass of lager during a live TV
Newcomers to politics, the movement's lawmakers were
unrepentant though pragmatic on Tuesday at the Rome hotel that
is serving as their campaign headquarters.
"The important thing is renegotiate the conditions with
Europe," new lawmaker Carla Ruocco, a 34-year-old mother of two,
told Reuters when pressed about her stance on the EU.
"It will be a nice spring day when we enter parliament.
We'll throw open the windows and let in some fresh air."
Though several Grillo supporters expressed some concern
about a repeat election, as happened in Greece, they said they
would vote for the movement again, perhaps indicating that
unlike SYRIZA, the 5-Star would not lose out in a second vote.
"Of course I'll vote for Grillo again!" Fabrizio Parodi, a
45-year-old shop owner in Genoa, said. "Who else am I supposed
to vote for? Berlusconi?"