Re-Blogged From The Guardian
Last month, Italy voted to reject changes to the country’s Constitution. The rejection was another step toward Italy leaving the EU and eventual breakup of the European Economic Community.
Here’s a roundup of news on Italy’s referendum and its aftermath:
- Matteo Renzi is preparing to formally submit his resignation after voters dismissed his plans for constitutional reform in a crushing referendum that saw close to 60% of voters opt for “no”. He said “My experience in government ends here … I did all I could to bring this to victory. Renzi has called a cabinet meeting for 1730 GMT, after which he said he would tender his resignation.
- The margin of the rejection– close to 20 percentage points – was much wider than expected. On a high turnout of 65.47%, 59.11% of voters chose no; 40.89% went for yes. Overseas voters bucked the trend, voting overwhelmingly (64.7%) for yes.
- The vote prompted the euro to initially fall to a 20-month low against the dollar and then bounce back to its highest level since mid-November. But shares in Italian banks have tumbled.
- Shares in the world’s oldest bank – Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena – fell sharply. Concerns about MPS were raised during the stress tests on the sector by the European Banking Authority in July, when the bank was ranked as the weakest of the 51 European institutions subjected to the annual assessment.
- France’s far right leader Marine Le Pen has welcomed the Italian referendum as an anti-austerity signal to France. She said: “After the Greek referendum, after Brexit, this Italian No adds a new people to the list of those who would like to turn their backs on absurd European policies which are plunging the continent into poverty.”
- Italy might have to spend public money to rescue some of its banks, according to European Central Bank governing council member Ewald Nowotny. “The difference between Italy and other states such as Germany and Austria is that, until now, in Italy there has not been any significant state aid or state takeovers (of banks),” he said.
- Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, admitted that the result was a “concern’. But finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, says Italy should continue with Renzi’s economic policies. “Italy has to continue the path that Prime Minister Renzi has taken economically and politically”, he said.
- The referendum – which was on questions of constitutional reform not the euro or EU – was nonetheless seized upon by populist groups including the Five Star movement and the anti-immigration Northern League (Lega Nord), which called for snap elections.
- Matteo Salvini, head of Italy’s far right Northern League party, has hailed the referendum result as Italy’s ‘liberation day’ from the Renzi government. He said it sent a message to Europe.
- European commissioners and finance ministers put a brave face on the result. Pierre Moscovici, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, said he had “full confidence in Italian authorities to manage this situation”. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, said: “The referendum wasn’t about Europe.”
- Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella is thought unlikely to call fresh elections but is instead expected to appoint a caretaker prime minister. Finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan, culture minister Dario Franceschini and Senate president Pietro Grasso are the names most commonly touted.