Why the Italian Constitutional Referendum affects the future of the EU – CapX
A Constitutional Referendum of this kind does not come out of the blue. The popular discontent with the Italian political class has been growing, and the cost of the gargantuan Italian bureaucratic apparatus was in the spotlight long before the populist party Movimento 5 Stelle (5 Star Movement) made this a key point of its manifesto. Despite cropping up in the news every couple of months, the absenteeism, extravagant expense claims and lifelong ‘golden pensions’ of Senators have, until now, remained untouched. An efficient and economical reorganisation of the political system is long overdue.
Nonetheless, much like the EU referendum in Britain was hijacked by misleading rhetoric, the campaign for the Constitutional Referendum in Italy has taken a nasty turn that could cost Mr. Renzi his post and plunge Europe in even hotter waters. In fact, the PM has somewhat recklessly declared he will resign if his reform doesn’t pass, and since then the referendum has been framed as a popular vote of confidence in his government. It doesn’t help that Renzi is the third unelected prime minister of Italy since 2013, and rules with a dangerously thin majority. The previous leader of his own party has joined the opposition, and the government has had to sign more and more dubious alliances over the past few months. Despite his boisterous confidence, Mr. Renzi desperately needs citizens’ validation.