Italy's foreign minister Angelino Alfano on Tuesday sharply rebuked European Union budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger for allegdly suggesting that negative investor sentiment would deter Italians from voting for populist parties in future.
"Markets have nothing to teach our electorate. Italians know how to vote and a lot can be learned from Italian democracy," Alfano said in a statement.
"In mature democracy like ours, the result of a free and fair vote must be respected - whether you like the outcome or not," the statement said.
"Brussels would do well to avoid declarations that aid those who want to break with Europe," the statement underlined.
The grassroots Five-Star Movement and the far-right, eurosceptic League party also blasted Oettinger, who in an interview with Germany's Deustche Welle radio station due to be published later on Tuesday reportedly states: "The negative development of the markets will lead Italians not to vote much longer for the populists."
Five-Star and the League, which won over half the votes cast in Italy's inconclusive 4 March national election this month unveiled an anti-austerity programme of government which roiled markets at home and abroad and sent jitters through the 28-member bloc. The joint agenda includes billions of euros of tax cuts, extra welfare spending, a reversal of pension reforms and a review of EU treaties.
Although the nascent populist government collapsed last week after Italy's president Sergio Mattarella vetoed its choice of a prominent eurosceptic for finance minister, Five Star and the League are expected to score an even bigger victory in a re-vote likely to be held in September.