After the referendum celebrated last Sunday with the aim of changing the Italian constitution Matteo Renzi is resigning as prime minister. The defeat of the “no” vote has been marked by a victory for anti-establishment and rightwing parties and has thrown the third largest economy of the European Union into a sharp political uncertainty.
The defeat was not unexpected but it was nevertheless more significant than estimated, with 59.1% of Italians voting against the proposed reforms, which would have made extensive changes to Italy’s constitution and parliamentary system.
The 20-point margin has signified a major victory for the populist Five Star Movement, which led the Italian opposition to the reform, and the Northern League. These parties are not precisely traditional allies but joined to oppose Renzi with the aim of driving him out of office.
The victory for “no” could have serious consequences for Italy and could disconcert European and global markets due to worries about the country’s economic future and support of populist and Eurosceptic parties.
The new government’s immediate task will be to pass a change in the electoral law that will make it more laborious for either the Five Star Movement or the Northern League to win strong majorities in the parliament in the following elections.