Italy’s Choice: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

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On Sunday, Italians definitively voted “No” to a constitutional referendum supported by the country’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. After the vote, in which nearly 60 percent of 33 million voters rejected the bill, Prime Minister Renzi said that he would fulfill the promise he made earlier this year to resign if the referendum failed. The package of constitutional changes would have revamped Italy’s bicameral system in order to give the ruling party enough power to pass key economic and political reforms. Now that this effort has failed, the country will need to form a transitional government and rework the Italicum electoral law – specifically designed to function under the referendum’s constitutional vision – before new elections in 2018.

Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella, has asked Renzi to stay until the budget passes, but that could be finished by this Friday, so the formation of the new government will take center stage. According to professor of European Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS, Marco Zambotti, this could mean some form of technocratic caretaker government led by a prominent figure like the Speaker of the Senate. However, “Renzi remains the most prominent figure in Italian politics and, almost by default, he will be in a strong position to pick his successor and influence the next government.”

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