Berlusconi labels M5S 'a sect'

Silvio Berlusconi on Domenica Live. Image: Corriere della Sera

ROME - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has renewed his offensive against the radical Five Star Movement (M5S), calling it a sect.

 In an interview for Channel 5, Berlusconi suggested that 'more than a party', M5S are 'a sect that takes orders from an old comedian and the son of a nobody...', in references to the Movement's leaders, Beppe Grillo and Luigi Di Maio. He also lambasted the populist movement for its ability to follow any idea, 'changing opinions from morning to night.'

 Berlusconi argued that M5S threat closely resembled that of the early 1990s: 'Today there is a populist, rebellion, pauperist group almost more dangerous than the post-communists of 1994.'

 Throughout the 1994 electoral campaign, Berlusconi concentrated on the communist threat that was facing Italy, drawing moderate voters away from other parties in a tactic that brought him his first spell as Prime Minister. The attacks on M5S thus follow the pattern of these earlier campaigns.

 Nonetheless, there was little in the way of new policy, with a concentration on Forza's fiscal plans. 'Our lay religion has always been "less tax, less tax, less tax"' and he revived the idea of a flat income tax 'equal for all, families and firms'.

 Such a 'Flat Tax', he claimed, would cut down on the total number of forms that would need to be completed, 'reduce tax evasion' and generally allow 'families to consume more, firms to produce more and more jobs to be created.' There was similarly a call for a 'dignity income' for pensioners of at least 1000€ per month. All this contrasted with M5S, who Berlusconi claimed had only 'envy and hate towards those who are rich.'