An exit poll for the Italian state broadcaster, RAI, indicates that 42-46% voted in favor of constitutional reforms proposed by the government of PM Matteo Renzi, while 54-58% voted No.
The exit polls is just a first projection, and it is possible that results will be even worse for the PM. Renzi announced that he will resign in case voters decide not to back his proposed constitutional reforms.
Renzi is expected to make a statement later tonight. With the results still being counted, there may yet be some hope for the PM.
The referendum in Italy is widely regarded as another test for pro-EU forces in Europe. Various anti-establishment, anti-EU parties supported a ‘No’ vote.
Italy is currently experiencing an economic crisis, and is struggling to reduce unemployment and public debt. A ‘No’ vote in the referendum will likely cause Renzi’s resignation, and lead to early elections.
A Cause of Concern for the EU
A ‘No’ vote in the referendum could bolster the anti-establishment forces across the continent that oppose EU integration. Political instability in Italy could also cause doubt regarding the financial stability of the Eurozone.
A growing discontent with the elites in Europe is transforming the political landscape of the continent, and the Italian referendum could be another signal of the ongoing distrust of European citizens with their current leadership.
The referendum was held as a part of an effort by the Renzi government to reform the Italian constitution, reduce the power of the Senate, reduce the number of Parliament members and expand the powers of the executive branch..
The proposed bill was harshly criticized by the Opposition parties, with claims that it will result increase centralization and make the government too powerful.
At the other hand, the government claimed that the proposed constitutional reforms would bring much needed reform to Italy’s often ineffective and complicated political system.