Opposition party seeks referendum asking Italians if they want to keep using the euro currency

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An opposition party in Italy is conducting a petition drive for a referendum that would ask citizens if they want to keep the euro as the country's currency.

The 5-Star Movement, led by comic Beppe Grillo, would need to collect 500,000 signatures that were certified by a court to require such a ballot referendum.

The Movement became a large opposition force in 2013 elections, and Grillo said Thursday that Italy's economy, mired in recession and high unemployment, will only worsen if the country retains the European Union's single currency.

The party says it met the signature requirement last weekend, but only Parliament can decide if Italy should abandon the euro.

Grillo said Italy is "drowning" in strict EU parameters for euro currency members, which he said discourage business investments.