On Dec. 5, a much-debated Italian referendum was rejected by 59% of the vote, bringing Italy’s future with the EU into question. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was a strong supporter of the changes, and has announced his resignation.
The proposed law would have changed the legislative process and taken political power away from Italy’s regions, strengthening the central government.
“I voted ‘No’. So let’s see what the situation is,” a Rome resident told reporters. “I’m a bit distrustful. There are few positive prospects at the moment.”
If the referendum had succeeded, Renzi’s administration would have had more opportunities to reform the country’s stagnant economy in line with the European Union. Bankers and industrialists were staunch supporters of the “Yes” vote.
With Renzi announcing his desire to resign, there’s a good chance that a populist anti-establishment coalition will get into office. The value of the Euro has sunk to its lowest point in 20 months, reflecting a fear that Italy might distance itself from the EU in the fashion of The UK’s Brexit.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her regret at Renzi’s announcment, saying that she had had a good working relationship with the Italian prime minister.
Some think the results of the vote aren’t as critical as the market fears.
“I don’t think that the result of the referendum is going to be a crucial factor in the future of Italy in the international scene and in Europe,” said Giovanni Orsina, a professor of political science at Luiss University. “I think this is just one sign post along the road, one step on a much more complicated road.”
Featured image: A woman walks past campaign posters to vote for a referendum on constitutional reforms, on December 2, 2016 in Rome. Credit: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)