Renzi’s ambitious reform proposition has not been approved by the referendum. As a consequence, he resigns and Italia renews with instability. He proposed to change the balance between the Chambers and the government, modify the Italian Constitution and allow the executive to speed up the legislative process.
The leader of the center-left Democratic Party, Matteo Renzi, announced before the vote that he would resign as Prime Minister if his proposal was defeated. With this announcement, he turned the referendum – which is mandatory by the Italian Constitution for a global reform – into a plebiscite and focused the consultation not on the constitutional reform, but on his person and his position as a leader. That was his mistake: fortified by a large unlikeable personality, Mr. Renzi’s disdainful behaviour eclipsed the benefit that his reform could provide to the Italian balance of power and played into the hands of the conservators and populists.
The major issue is that the result of this consultation threw together a new indicator of the EU’s difficulties: after Brexit, a new drop of pro-European parties and leaders frightens economic partners and markets. As a result of the “NO” vote, the euro value has decreased this morning, and above all, it strengthens populist parties across the EU.
Hopefully, the EU is not blamed in each of its members states: in Austria, the Ecologist and pro-EU Alexander Van der Bellen won the Head of State elections against the populist and eurosceptic Norbert Hofer (FPÖ).
After a first victory in May, results were contested and annulled after Mr. Hofer had submitted the case to the Constitutional Court. Then, the elections were postponed to October, but a technical method issue with the ballots’ adhesive put it off until December the 4th. Mr. Van der Bellen’s win is a fundamental event that shows that pro-Europeans have not fully disappeared across the EU. This is a strong sign, especially for Austria, which was the first European country to have a governmental coalition with a far-right party. This victory could mark the beginning of the decline of populism and the FPÖ in Austria, especially as their strategy was to use this election to project themselves and their extreme ideas to the true heart of the Austrian power and decision-making: the Chancellery. Austrian were able to see other alternatives than populism. As a majority of populist parties do, the FPÖ uses cyberspace and social media as a fundamental communication channel. Although their opponents have difficulties assessing the power of Internet, Mr. Van der Bellen did not make this mistake and let the Fachospere grew without responses and counter-speeches.
These two ballots show the dissents inside the EU and the necessity to reshape the European model.
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