Italy's 5-Star attacks euro, north-European 'nazism'

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 13, 2015 12:40 PM

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement on Friday called on southern European countries to unite against the euro and the policies of northern European "nazism" which are destroying their economies.

The 5-Star Movement, Italy's second-largest party behind Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party, is campaigning to hold a referendum to take Italy out of the euro and ramping up its rhetoric against the single currency.

Alessandro Di Battista, one of 5-Star's most prominent leaders, said policies like Renzi's labor market reform to make it easier to fire employees were imposed by northern European countries which dictate the euro zone's agenda.

"As a result they create more and more slaves," Di Battista said at a conference in Rome. "They want to colonize the south of Europe and so the peoples of southern Europe have to unite."

5-Star, like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, has drawn support from voters fed up with the austerity policies of recent years in which living standards have fallen and unemployment has climbed.

"The enemy today is the central power, a kind of northern European Nazism which is destroying us," said Di Battista, 36, who is seen as a possible successor to 5-Star leader Beppe Grillo, the comedian who founded the movement in 2009.

Di Battista said Syriza, which is in tough negotiations with the European Union over its plans to reverse austerity policies imposed by its creditors "has some very good policies but will never achieve them if it stays inside the euro".

Italy's constitution does not allow referendums on international treaties such as the euro, but 5-Star hopes that by organizing a non-binding national poll on the issue it can still create irresistible public pressure for Italy to pull out.

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The 5-Star Movement, which campaigns against the corruption and privilege of Italy's established parties, is hard to place on the traditional left-right political spectrum.

It won a stunning 25 percent of the vote at Italy's last national election in 2013, which produced no clear winner.

Despite internal divisions and defections since then, it still has support of 18-19 percent, according to most opinion polls, making it easily the main opposition to Renzi's PD.

(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)