THEY are housewives, students, graphic designers, the unemployed, and even an astrophysicist. Many are in their 20s – less than a third the age of Silvio Berlusconi and the many other septuagenarians of the Italian political establishment.
Welcome to the new face of Italian politics – the Five Star Movement, led by the mercurial comedian-turned-political activist Beppe Grillo. His movement's success in Italy's election, becoming the country's single biggest party, is about to propel more than 150 "Grillini", as his supporters are known, into the two houses of parliament.
The movement has won 108 seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies and 54 in the Senate. The question of the movement's leadership is confused. Mr Grillo may be its undisputed king, but he imposed a rule by which no member with a criminal conviction can hold office. That rules him out because he has a manslaughter conviction from a car accident in the 1980s.
Many of the new MPs and senators only just squeak past the minimum age limit of 25. Having captured more than a quarter of the vote for the lower house, the movement is the biggest political force behind the centre-Right coalition of Mr Berlusconi and the centre-Left led by Pier Luigi Bersani. (© Daily Telegraph, London)