Headline-grabbing comedian Beppe Grillo, Italy's latest political sensation, has some in the country concerned with his calls to drop the euro.
Grillo's party, the "Five Star Movement" (M5S), came to power at the end of February after securing "26 percent of the lower house votes in its first ever parliamentary election," Reuters writes. The surprising win, a result of grassroots support and outreach on the Internet, fractured the Italian political scene into three major parties, effectively leaving the country in a deadlock, the Telegraph reports.
Now, as the Five Star Movement decides whether or not to form an alliance with Italy's other parties -- a prospect Grillo labeled "the usual sluttish way of doing politics" -- he's also taken to leading the conversation, pushing to have a national conversation about leaving the euro.
In an interview on Sunday with Bild, a prominent German paper, Grillo confirmed he wouldn't be opposed to potentially leaving the euro in favor of Italy's former currency, the lira.
According to Reuters, if an Italian vote on the euro's future were to happen, the results would not be legally binding. They would, however, carry political weight and could drive the conversation toward an Italian exit -- a prospect likely to spook investors already unsettled by the EU's dealings with Greece.
Based on a May 2012 Pew Research poll, 61 percent of Italians viewed European economic integration as having weakened their national economy.
Grillo started gaining notoriety in the mid-2000s when he created "V Day." The (unofficial) Italian holiday stands for victory, vendetta and "vaffanculo," Italian for "f*** off," the New Yorker previously reported. At a V-Day rally in 2008, a crowd of 100,000 saluted ending politics as usual by holding their middle fingers high in the air, the news outlet noted.
Since then, Grillo's attention-grabbing moves have multiplied. According to the Telegraph, Italian reporters that try to reach him say they were instead told to speak with his 12-year-old son. He's also fond of calling political rival Silvio Berlusconi "the psychotic dwarf," the Independent notes.