The head of the populist Five Star Movement, comedian Beppe Grillo, addresses supporters during a rally on February 12, 2013 in Bergamo, northern Italy.
The head of the populist Five Star Movement, comedian Beppe Grillo, addresses supporters during a rally on February 12, 2013 in Bergamo, northern Italy. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

What city do you think of when you hear the following: Lawmakers in gridlock, the economy paralyzed, comedians in charge.

The answer isn't Washington. It's Rome.

Following an election over the weekend, Italians have elected an actual comedian, Beppe Grillo, to the leadership of the one of the country's largest political parties. Disgraced former premier Silvio Berlusconi has risen from his political grave. And all that raises the distinct possibility of fresh instability involving Europe and European debt.

 "Once again we've surprised the world with one buffoon who actually had another job title to one whose has the real job title of comedian," Alessandro Valera lives in Rome and works for a human rights group. But he's not talking about the actual comedian -- he's referring to Silvio Berlusconi and the scandals that marked his time at the helm of the country.

Valera says the last few days have been "confusing and hectic," in part because election polls got the results so wrong. There's a bit of surprise in the air today. And he says, perhaps the election of Beppe Grillo would be appropriate.

But jokes aside, the havoc in Italy's political system could mean problems for Europe's economy. Valera acknowledges the election is part of a wider crisis -- social, economic, and moral -- the country is facing.

"I'm worried because there's a whole generation that's looking for a future. It seems very difficult at the moment," he says.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal