Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/20 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/20 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/20 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/19 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/20 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/19 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/20 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/20 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/19 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/20 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/20 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Europe

Political instability as usual after Italy's referendum

media Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his resignation after a referendum on constitutional reform in Rome, 5 December 2016. Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced he would resign Monday after voters rejected his proposals to reform the constitution in Sunday's referendum. While pro- and anti-Europeans respectively minimised and celebrated the impact, the result left the country in a familiar state of political uncertainty.

With a turnout of more than 65 percent, more than 59 percent of voters struck down Renzi’s plans to reduce the powers of the Senate in hopes of streamlining the legislative process.

In the end the referendum had less to do with rejecting the proposal than directing anger and frustration at Renzi and his government.

“The idea was ‘We believe you have failed, you promised things that you didn’t deliver, you have put yourself at the centre of everything, arguing that you are the solution to everything […], you are clearly not the solution to all our problems and, given that you are so visible, we can express our anger at you,’” says Giovanni Orsina, professor of contemporary history at LUISS University in Rome.

Although the referendum itself was not about Italy’s role and place in the European Union or its use of the euro currency, Eurosceptics inside and outside the country hailed the result as a victory.

Grillo calls for election within week

The campaign against the reform was spearheaded by the Five Star Movement, whose leader Beppe Grillo called for a snap election “within a week”.

Marine Le Pen of France's far-right National Front sent Italian voters her “congratulations on this victory”, while Nigel Farage, who was a prominent Brexit campaigner in the UK, said the vote looked "more about the euro than constitutional change".

While pro-European observers generally minimised the impact of the vote, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier admitted it was “certainly not a positive contribution against the backdrop of the crisis in Europe".

“Matteo Renzi was a very pro-European political leader and now there is a big fear among pro-Europeans in Italy that the next prime minister might well be Grillo […], a declared anti-European who proposes holding a referendum on Italy’s exit from the eurozone,” says Alexander Trechsel, professor of political science at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland.

A return to uncertainty

In the shorter term, moving on from the referendum is complicated by a number of pending reforms that are in limbo until a new government is in place.

“The constitutional reform was supposed to come together with a new electoral law, but the constitutional amendment has been rejected, so the electoral law will also have to be amended and reviewed,” says Silvia Merler, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and affiliate fellow at Brussels-based think tank Bruegel.

“There are also a number of important deadlines, like the budget law that has to go through parliament before the end of the year and also the banking sector situation that was supposed to be dealt with after the referendum and now there is uncertainly how that will be dealt with.”

The result marks a return to the uncertainty that has come to mark political life in Italy, where citizens are accustomed to the search for new governments and leaders.

“We have to find a new government, a new prime minister, and we must find a way to change the institutions and electoral law, so certainly we are heading towards a rather bumpy period,” says Orsina.

“Of course a Yes vote would have opened up a period of much greater stability and the possibility of doing economic reforms that might be delayed, because now politics and institutions come first,” he adds. “But this is what Italian politics has been about for a few decades, so I expect the country to find its way out of this.”

Related
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.