ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star movement, buoyed by its big gains in local elections, used its resurgent strength to press demands for a national a referendum on whether to keep the euro.
“We want a consultative referendum on the euro. The euro as it is today does not work. We either have alternative currencies or a ‘Euro 2’,” Luigi Di Maio, a vice president of the lower house of parliament, said during a talk show on Tuesday night.
While any such referendums on the EU or the euro would be merely test public opinion because Italian law does not allow referendums to change international treaties, a victory would send a clear signal to the government. The 5-Star movement, which is carefully watching the result of Thursday’s referendum in Britain on whether to leave the EU, has called for two different currencies in Europe, one for the rich northern countries another for southern countries. The group pressed its case after winning 19 of the 20 mayoral elections where it had reached the run-off stage last Sunday, including the capital Rome the northern industrial capital of Turin. The results dealt a significant blow to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) and were hailed by supporters of 5-Star as a possible springboard to national government. The movement’s leader, comedian Beppe Grillo, has also called for a referendum on whether Italy should stay in the European Union.
“We entered the European Parliament to change many treaties,” Di Maio said.
“We are now waiting for the results of the Brexit referendum. The mere fact that a country like Great Britain is holding a referendum on whether to leave the EU signals the failure of the European Union,” he said. Last week, Nigel Farage, leader of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party, said the victory of 5-Star’s Virginia Raggi as Rome’s first woman mayor would be the start of the disintegration of the EU.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Heavens)