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Italian president Giorgio Napolitano cancelled a planned meeting with SPD leader Peer Steinbrück in Berlin after the Social Democrat candidate in September’s German election said he was “horrified by the victory of two clowns”, Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo, in the Italian election.

Steinbruck later withdrew the comment, but he was not the only German leader to express concern for Italy with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble comparing the situation there, to that of Greece.