MEPs from Italy's Five Star Movement (M5S) overwhelmingly approved in a referendum to join forces with British euroskeptic UKIP, headed by Nigel Farage.
Beppe Grillo, leader of M5S, offered MEPs only three voting options: they could join UKIP's Europe for Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, affiliate themselves to the Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), where the British Conservatives have the widest representation, or refraining from entering any group.
The online poll was offered to M5S voters on Beppe Grillo's blog and was open only for a day (June 12), the EUObserver reports.
Out of 5.8 M who cast their ballot for the party, only 30 000 took part in the Internet poll. About 78 percent of them chose UKIP's EFD group, with remaining votes almost evenly distributed between the other two options.
UKIP came first in the EU elections held in May and have sent 24 deputies to Brussels, while the M5S, with 17 MEPs, were second in Italy to the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (31 MEPs).
Grillo's movement will now become the second-largest force in the EFD.
Alliance with the Greens, which have been long described as potential alliance, was controversially excluded as a referendum option, despite the fact that the M5S would have dominated the group, as Germany's delegation, the biggest one there, numbers 11 MEPs.
Grillo and Farage, both with a harsh anti-immigration stance, met in end-May in Brussels to discuss their potential alliance.
The Telegraph adds the two men's cooperation has already been nicknamed as the "Grillage people" in Brussels.
With the M5S included into the group, EDD will have enough members to qualify as EU-funded (25 MEPs are needed), but falls short of two countries as it has attracted only delegations from five member states.
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