Five Stars movement's leader Beppe Grillo holds a poster reading "Out of the Euro - 50.000 signatures in a week-end" during a press conference on December 18, 2014 in Rome. / AFP / ANDREAS SOLARO
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Italy's acerbic Beppe Grillo may have hung up his political gloves to return to the comedy circuit, but backlash over a bomb joke targeting London's new mayor has aggravated an identity crisis within his populist Five Star movement (M5S).Political rivals and commentators asked whether the populist movement can effectively claim to be Grillo-free.Some commentators warned the bomb joke risked harming the movement's campaign to win Rome's mayoral election next month, coming as it does on top of investigations into the mayor of Parma for abuse of office and the mayor of Livorno for fraud.The Five Star mayors of those two cities insist they are innocent but the probes have embarrassed a self-described anti-corruption movement, and M5S is counting on winning in Rome to give it the boost it needs to challenge Matteo Renzi's center-left government.
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