Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo has emerged as a key player after his Five Star Movement did much better than expected in elections, raising doubts the traditional parties could form a working government. This is the full transcript of the BBC’s interview with Mr Grillo, conducted on 27 February:
Are you willing to do a deal with the centre-left or the centre-right? Would you support any kind of government? This is the question Italians are asking.
Beppe Grillo: No. This is an excuse. They all talk about having no government. But this country hasn’t been governed for years. They need excuses. And what’s the excuse? To finally strike a deal out in the open, between [ex-PM Silvio] Berlusconi and [Pier Luigi] Bersani, right and left. Now, they will find an accord, those two, to form this government. But those two are the ones who brought this country to its knees.
Today, in Italy, what will happen is what happened before. The right and the left will get together and will govern a country of rubble that they are responsible for. It will last a year. One. Maximum. Then there will be elections again. And once again the Five Star Movement will change the world.
You have shaken the system in Italy. Do you want to bring the system down? Are you really seeking a revolution?
Beppe Grillo: This is already a revolution. It has already started. You can’t stop it anymore. I didn’t want it. It is not mine. It is the internet that changes: the internet is not just a language, it modifies relationships, the way we look at the world. It is a tremendous revolution. When our people come in, there will be no more theft. No more stealing. Honesty will come back into fashion. He’s honest? Okay, come over. He’s steals? No. Shut up. Steal. Honest? OK. The market of honesty. The honesty market. OK?
This is a dream. The movement is a dream of what could happen in 20 or 30 years. Not now. Now, nothing will happen.
A lot of people outside Italy will know you as a stand-up comedian who won one in four votes in the Italian elections but your campaign hasn’t been funny, it’s been about anger. You are tapping into this huge rage, can you control this huge rage that is out there?
Beppe Grillo: From all this rage, we created hope. There was no hope. It was anger without hope. It is anger without hope that creates violence. But anger with hope is a different kind of anger, an optimistic anger; it is not negative.
We are containing this rage, so they should thank me. It is a democratic rage that is needed to go forward. You’ll see, you’ll see.
You’ve said you intend to lower taxes, create jobs and protect the environment but how will you pay for all these nice ideas you have?
Beppe Grillo: It is a change in the way of thinking. You start from the top, not the bottom. Politics. OK? Money and politics. We spend 1bn euros (£863m; $1.3bn)on Afghanistan. Peace. It is not peace. They change the words. They say it is a peace mission. It is war. Then we have fiscal evasion from slot machines of 98 billion euros, let’s go get that, they are state concessions.
We spent 240m euros a year on the office of the president of the republic. Let’s use a third of that and the rest we will set aside. The money is there. One billion in subsidies for parties? Cut it. The one billion in subsidies for newspapers? Cut it. There will be reforms.
Pensions. We have 100,000 people who have pensions of between 10,000 and 90,000 euros a month. It should be 4,000 maximum, then you take the rest and with that money you create a social security net.
Now our problem is the emergency… emergency! People are dying. People aren’t eating. They are getting their food from charities and sleeping in their cars. It is incredible. A thousand businesses are closing every day. Every day. Every day. And our strength, manufacturing, Made in Italy, is dead.
Should Italy be outside the euro?
Beppe Grillo: This decision to say if we are out or in is not up to me, it is not up to the rating agencies, it is not up to Merkel and it is not up to any political party. It is up to the Italian people. They have the right to be informed, and to have a referendum to say yes or no.
If you are going to destroy something, you have to be pretty sure you know what you are going to replace it with….
Beppe Grillo: No, that is not right. We want to destroy everything. Not rebuild on the same rubble. We have different ideas. It is like any work. You have to have a clean slate. Then, you have a programme, a new way of thinking. It is a way of thinking. Not a restoration. Parties out. Citizens instead of parties. It is turning the pyramid upside down.
The citizens are going to go in – you, you, him, her. Citizens go into parliament and become the state of citizens, and then they change, then they rotate around and around and every two terms they change and it will be a different world, made by citizens, not politicians.
And here we are, we competent citizens, every one of us a professional in our sector, who haven’t got criminal convictions, who, after two parliamentary terms will go home, who have passion. We don’t take money. In three years, without public monies and with the TV and newspapers against us, we have become the strongest political force in the country.