Beppe Grillo can allow himself a few days to bask in the afterglow of his triumph in Italy's election, but soon the comedian who now leads the country's largest party will face some tough political choices.
After a spectacular rise since its formation in 2009, Mr Grillo's anti-establishment Five-Star movement won a stunning 26pc of lower house votes at the election, fractionally more than the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
His 108 seats in the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies and 54 in the 315-seat Senate leave him holding the key to Italy's political future. His followers are delighted.
"We hope to change politics and give a bigger voice to the young. The old parties did nothing for 30 years," said Manolo Pellegrini, a 26-year-old television technician who voted for Mr Grillo in Rome.
The only government that can be formed without Mr Grillo's consent would be a re-edition of the unnatural alliance between centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi and Pier Luigi Bersani on the centre-left, which ruled for a year under outgoing technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti.
Yet this would enrage many supporters on both sides and make it likely that when Italians return to the polls, the Five-Star Movement performs even better. That is why, after decrying Mr Grillo for months as a rabble-rousing demagogue, the other parties are already hinting they want to do business with him.
Now not just Italians, but also foreign leaders worried by the inconclusive election outcome in the eurozone's third-largest economy, are asking themselves what Mr Grillo will do next.
"There are no strategies, we will support ideas that are in line with ours, bill by bill," he told reporters yesterday.
With his fierce invective against established politicians, the hoarse-voiced, shaggy-haired Mr Grillo has been branded a dangerous populist by many commentators, yet he could turn out to be a positive force for Italy.
Mr Grillo, who is 64, did not run for election himself and says with some irony that he is merely Five-Star's "spokesman".
One possibility is that he eventually joins forces with the PD for a government that finally cuts politicians' privileges, changes the dysfunctional electoral system and perhaps adopts some of his signature policies on ecology or internet access.
The other option, perhaps more likely, is that he remains in opposition with his army of young lawmakers, most with no previous experience as career politicians.
They were selected in primary elections held on the internet in which would-be candidates presented them- selves with a biography or using a webcam.
If Mr Grillo stays in oppos- ition, the threat that he makes further gains may be just the scourge that the other parties need to finally reform the electoral law and adopt the cost-cutting reforms that they have promised for years.
These are best-case scenarios. A less favourable one for Mr Grillo is that his lawmakers' idealistic enthusiasm dissolves into anarchy when they arrive in the corridors of power and some gradually abandon ship to join more established parties.
In a rare and unusually frank newspaper interview last summer, Mr Grillo admitted that his movement was more suited to local politics and was unprepared for parliament.
Carla Ruocci, a 34-year-old mother of two who will leave her job in the state tax offices to become a lower house deputy, said she and her colleagues would collect just €2,500 per month, compared with the standard lawmakers' salary of around €8,000.
"The first thing I want to do in parliament is to reduce what Italians have to pay for their political institutions," she said in a Rome hotel where Mr Grillo's supporters were celebrating their success.
Alarm over Mr Grillo's call for a referendum on Italy's euro membership or occasional suggestions it should restruc- ture its debt is probably unjustified.
These issues do not figure in the party's programme and are not the core of his appeal.
That is based overwhel- mingly on cutting down Italy's bloated political apparatus and putting an end to the privilege and corruption of its political and business elite.