Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) was rejected in its bid to join the European Union's liberal alliance on Monday.
The ardently pro-EU Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) cited "insufficient common ground" with the left-wing populists.
M5S, which has enjoyed a steady rise of popularity in status quo-weary Italy since its founding in 2009, had earlier decided to break with the British anti-EU party UKIP in favor of joining ALDE. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage chided spokesman Beppe Grillo, saying that M5S had "joined the Euro-fanatic establishment."
Although M5S members had voted 78 percent in favor of the move, they could not recreate that groundswell amongst ALDE's 68 members.
"There is insufficient common ground to proceed with the request of the 5-Star Movement to join the ALDE Group," said group leader and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. "There remain fundamental differences on key European issues."
Verhofstadt had actually voiced his support for M5S joining ALDE, despite the fact that his staunchly pro-EU views had once been the target of ridicule from the Italian populists.
In the wilderness
Grillo announced that he had also been refused by the Greens for an alliance, leaving M5S in the awkward position of dumping its former allies and now having nowhere else to turn. As a party that rejects traditional left-right designations and whose sole mission is to shake up politics-as-usual, M5S has no natural allies within the European Parliament.
M5S announced that it would seek to form its own parliamentary group, under the umbrella goal of seeking more direct democracy in Europe, by the time the new legislative period begins in 2019.
es/cmk (dpa, Reuters)