Italy: From A Clown To A Comic

From Berlusconi to Grillo. In reality the strong showing in local elections tonight for the movement of comedian-turned-activist blogger Beppe Grillo is a rejection of corporatist, business-as-usual politics. Parties of the right got hurt more by this than the left. The center right is garnering less of the popular vote, by the looks of it, than Grillo’s Cinque Stella movement.

It isn’t clear though that this is a straight rejection of Italian Premier Mario Monti, who still enjoys in the opinion polls a 50 percent plus popularity rating. In fact, Monti is likely to be strengthened by the unfolding results and the weakening of center right parties, who now will have to continue to back Monti’s government of technocrats or risk facing a national election that would seem them trounced.

The challenge for Monti will be to overcome the resistance of statist left parties to labor market reforms and cuts in the bloated Italian bureaucracy.