In Italy they are putting their "money" on a comedian to save them from the austerity plan. Be careful what you vote for as many of us here in America believe we are being governed by a group of clowns ourselves.
ROME--Italians delivered a stunning blow to traditional parties on Monday when they elected protest candidates to govern several key cities, signalling a major shift in the political landscape ahead of a general election next year.
In the most sensational result in two rounds of local polls, comedian Beppe Grillo's Five-Star Movement consolidated its meteoric rise from fringe group to national contender by winning the mayor's office in Parma, a city of 190,000 people.
Grillo's 39-year-old candidate Federico Pizzarotti, a political newcomer, defeated Vincenzo Bernazzoli, a seasoned politician supported by a coalition of centre-left parties, according to final official results. "My victory reflects Italians' desire for change," Pizzarotti said.
The two main parties in the right-left coalition that supports Prime Minister Mario Monti--architect of Italy's tough austerity programme--did not fare well in the local elections on Sunday and Monday. By putting the parties that support the technocrat prime minister in parliament on the defensive, they could make it more difficult for Monti to push through highly unpopular measures aimed at avoiding a Greek-style debt crisis.
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Liberty (PDL) party took a walloping in the first round two weeks ago, and lost to the centre left in Piacenza on Monday. The left-wing Democratic Party (PD) was part of a coalition that won in the port city of Genoa, but was defeated in Palermo as well as Parma.
"The Parma victory is extraordinary. It shows a very clear rejection of the traditional parties," said James Walston, Professor of International Relations at the American University in Rome.
"The local votes are very much against the parties, and only indirectly against Monti," Walston said.
Grillo's movement did especially well in the north, also scoring wins in the small towns of Mira and Comacchio, and taking advantage of a corruption scandal that has badly hurt Berlusconi's former ally, the Northern League. That party lost all seven races it contested on Monday.