Excerpted From BBC: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has resigned after suffering a heavy defeat in a referendum over his plan to reform the constitution.
In a late-night news conference, he said he took responsibility for the outcome. He said the No camp must now make clear proposals.
An exit poll for state broadcaster RAI suggests 42-46% voted to back reform, compared with 54-58% voting No.
The first projections based on the official count point to a wider defeat.
Early indications have the Yes vote at 39-43% and the No at 57-61%.
“Good luck to us all,” Mr Renzi told reporters. He said he would tell a Cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon that he is resigning, and then tender his resignation to the Italian president after two-and-a-half years in office.
Mr Renzi said the reforms would have cut Italy’s bureaucracy and made the country more competitive.
The vote asked about plans to streamline parliament but it was widely seen as a chance to register discontent with the prime minister.
The No vote was supported by populist parties, and the referendum was regarded as a barometer of anti-establishment sentiment in Europe.
Opposition leader Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigrant Northern League, said that if the exit polls were confirmed, the referendum will be a “victory of the people against the strong powers of three-quarters of the world”. Keep reading
ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he would resign following a stinging defeat on Sunday in a referendum over his proposals for constitutional reform.
“The experience of my government ends here,” Renzi said in a televised address to the nation after early voting results suggested his ‘Yes’ camp may have lost the referendum by as much as 20 points.
Renzi said he took full responsibility for the “extraordinarily clear” defeat and that on Monday afternoon he would convene his cabinet and then hand in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.
ROME (Reuters) – Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has lost a referendum on constitutional reform by a wide margin, exit polls and early projections showed on Sunday, throwing his future into doubt and opening the door to renewed political instability in Italy.
Renzi, who had promised to resign if his flagship project was defeated, is due to address the nation at around midnight (6.00 p.m. ET), government sources said.
The euro fell sharply against the dollar on the exit polls, slipping to $1.0550 from $1.0625.
A trio of polls for various television stations saw the ‘No’ camp ahead by at least eight percentage points. Within half an hour, projections based on the initial counts suggested Renzi could lose by as much as 20 points.
If confirmed, the result would represent a fresh blow to the European Union which is struggling to overcome an array of crises and was eager for Renzi to continue his reform drive in the euro zone’s heavily indebted, third-largest economy.
Defeat could also prompt fresh market ructions, especially in the banking sector which has lost almost half its value this year on the Milan bourse, hit by fears over its huge exposure to bad loans accumulated during years of economic downturn.
Renzi, 41, took office in 2014 promising to shake up hidebound Italy and presenting himself as an anti-establishment “demolition man” determined to crash through a smothering bureaucracy and redraw the nation’s creaking institutions.
Sunday’s referendum, designed to hasten the legislative process by reducing the powers of the upper house Senate and regional authorities, was to have been his crowning achievement.
However, his reforms so far have made little impact, and the opposition 5-Star Movement has claimed the anti-establishment banner, tapping into a populist mood that saw Britons vote to leave the European Union and Americans elect Donald Trump president.
Under Italian law, Renzi had to call a referendum on his plans to overhaul the constitution, but it was his decision to pin his future to the outcome, arguing that if Italy was not willing to accept his recipe for change he should leave office.
This move turned the vote into a defacto plebiscite on Renzi himself, uniting disparate opposition forces in a fierce battle to unseat Italy’s youngest prime minister that played out over months of relentless campaigning.
If he does resign, it does not necessarily mean that he will vanish from the political stage, as happened in Britain when David Cameron quit as prime minister after his Brexit defeat.
President Sergio Mattarella could ask Renzi to reconsider, calling on his sense of responsibility at a time of great market uncertainty. If however he refuses, the head of state will open a round of consultations with party leaders to find a new prime minister, who will have to draw up a new electoral law.
As head of the largest party in parliament, Renzi would have a big say on who should succeed him.
After voting in Genoa earlier on Sunday, Beppe Grillo, founder of the anti-euro 5-star Movement which backs a ‘No’ vote, said the country needed to go to new elections as soon as possible. His party is running neck-and-neck with Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) in the opinion polls.
The biggest immediate loser if the ‘No’ camp has indeed triumphed could be Italy’s third-largest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which is bowed by bad loans and is looking to raise 5 billion euros ($5.3 billion) this month to stave off collapse.
Investors are likely to shun the operation if political chaos prevails, meaning a state intervention will be needed to save it. Several other lenders also need a cash injection to stay afloat raising fears of a domino-effect crisis.
Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan sought to calm nervous markets on Friday, saying there was “no risk of a financial earthquake” if ‘No’ wins, though there may be “48 hours of turbulence”.
A Nov. 25 Reuters poll suggested investors would expect to demand an extra 25 basis points in yield to hold Italian debt over its German equivalent if the reform is rejected, with the euro dipping 1.25 percent.
The risk to stability, meanwhile, is enough to have the European Central Bank preparing to step in if needed.
Rome (AFP) – Matteo Renzi’s time as Italy’s prime minister appeared to be over Sunday as exit polls indicated voters had overwhelmingly rejected constitutional reform proposals on which he had staked his future.
The reformist premier had vowed to quit if he lost the vote on proposals to streamline parliament and the first exit polls indicated he had been left with little other option.
Polls for national broadcaster Rai and the La7 television channel both called the vote decisively for the No camp. Their surveys put the winning margin at an average of 56.7 percent to 43.3.
Almost 70 percent of the electorate turned out to vote, first reports from polling stations indicated, underlining the stakes after Renzi’s resignation pledge turned the vote into a de facto referendum on his leadership and record.
The projected result was in line with what opinion polls had been indicating up until November 18, after which the media were banned from publishing survey results.
Renzi was due to make a statement at his Palazzo Chigi official residence around midnight, aides had said prior to the polls closing.
The defeat and Renzi’s likely departure will plunge Italy in a new phase of political uncertainty and possible economic turmoil.
Presuming Renzi does step down, President Sergio Mattarella will be charged with brokering the appointment of a new government to run Italy until the next general election, which has to take place by the spring of 2018.
– Call for early elections –
The main opposition parties went into the vote insisting that there should be early elections if the proposals — curtailing the size and powers of Italy’s Senate and transferring powers from regions to the national government — were defeated.
Renzi had gone the final weekend of the campaign insisting he could still win voters around.
And during the day his hopes were raised as turnout in the prosperous north of the country far exceeded that in the south — a pattern which was seen as a potential boost to the premier’s survival hopes.
But it appeared in the end that voters on both sides were equally energised, leaving the balance of forces much as it had been at the start of the campaign.
Opposition parties denounced the proposed amendments to the 68-year-old constitution as dangerous for democracy because they would have removed important checks and balances on executive power.
Spearheaded by the populist Five Star Movement, the biggest rival to Renzi’s Democratic party, the “No” campaign also capitalised on Renzi’s declining popularity, a sluggish economy and the problems caused by tens of thousands of migrants arriving in Italy from Africa.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right Northern League said Renzi should resign immediately and called for early elections.
“God willing it’s over. A new era starts tomorrow I hope,” he had said earlier in the day.
– Populist victory –
The No vote represents a major victory for Five Star leader Beppe Grillo, who had urged Italians to follow their gut instincts.
But Renzi’s backers believed they were voting for overdue change.
Outside a polling station in Rome, business owner Raffaele Pasquini, 37, told AFP he had voted “Yes” in the interest of his two-year-old son.
“We are voting to try and change a country that has been stalled for far too long,” he said.
Some short-term market turbulence looks inevitable in the wake of the vote.
And some analysts fear a deeper crisis of investor confidence that could derail a rescue scheme for Italy’s most indebted banks, triggering a wider financial crisis across the eurozone.
After the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, the No vote is likely to be interpreted as another victory for populist forces and a potential stepping stone to government for Grillo’s Five Star.
But the campaign was not just about popular discontent with the state of Italy. Many Italians of a similar political bent to Renzi had deep reservations about the proposed changes to the constitution.
Under the proposals, the second-chamber Senate, currently a body of 315 directly-elected and five lifetime lawmakers, would have been reduced to only 100 members, mostly nominated by the regions.
The chamber would also have been stripped of most of its powers to block and revise legislation, and to unseat governments.