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  • Movimento Cinque Stelle leader Beppe Grillo during the demonstration in Rome last week
    When Beppe Grillo, Movimento Cinque Stelle leader, took a tumble into one of the myriad Roman potholes, the sarcastic chortles of his opponents echoed all over Italy. Why? Because the mayor, who is expected to fix up Rome and its streets, is from his party.
  • Approaching his ninetieth birthday, President Giorgio Napolitano will neither confirm nor deny reports that he will announce his resignation by the end of the year. But even without confirmation his resignation is being taken for granted, and the fallout is already having a tremendous effect upon the entire political scene.
  • Matteo Renzi's trumpeted agenda for renewal of the Partito Democratico begins with reform of the despised "Porcellum," the "porker" or "pigsty" law, promoted by Silvio Berlusconi, which took effect in December of 2005. By its terms in a national general election the political party which bests the others, even when it has a mere 30% of the vote, walks away with 55% of the Senate and a large percent in the Chamber. Renzi is having none of this-- and is scaring the old pols witless because he seems willing to accept reform votes in Parliament from any quarter, not excluding the aggressive Beppe Grillo.
  • Grillo's exploit Oct. 10 was the official launch of his party, Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S), into the Sicilian regional election fray. In the event, Grillo had the last laugh, for when the Oct. 28 ballot boxes were opened, they showed that M5S has bounced up from zero to 14.7%, to become the single largest party in Sicily, well ahead of such rivals as Pier Luigi Bersani's Partito Democratico (PD) on the left and Silvio Berlusconi's Partito della Liberta' (PdL) on the right.