Will Renzi survive the constitution referendum?

The Italians will vote in a referendum on Matteo Renzi's proposed constitutional reform by the end of the year. The referendum aims to limit the power of the higher chamber of the Italian parliament and thus enhance the stability of the political system. The prime minister has said he will resign if the referendum fails. The press sees this as a dangerous move on his part.

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Dilema Veche (RO) /

PM holds time bomb in his hands

Dilema Veche explains why the Italian reform is important for all Europe:

“The referendum in Italy in October is also about Prime Minister Renzi's political future. He must try to find an answer to the imminent financial and banking crisis. The Italian banking sector is sitting on more than 360 billion euros in bad loans and is suffering from decades of mismanagement. … Added to that is the pressure from the refugees because most of them are arriving via the Mediterranean now. Renzi has a veritable time bomb in his hands. If the referendum goes wrong for him in these circumstances the prime minister will resign and the advance of anti-European forces like the Lega Nord or the Movimento Cinque Stelle will be unstoppable.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

This reform could save Italy

If Renzi suffers a defeat in the referendum it will be a fatal blow for Italy, Corriere della Sera warns the Italian voters:

“Despite its shortcomings this reform could be the 'mother of all reforms' because it represents the first attempt in years to make parliamentary democracy functional once more. Reforming the latter is the only way to save it - by allowing the politicians to finally tackle the unpopular reforms they have done everything to avoid so far. … Unfortunately there is the danger that the voters will cast their ballot against their own interests, as the British did, because they too feel alienated from those 'in the system'. Matteo Renzi is perceived as belonging to the system even though he bears no blame for all the disasters caused by the leading classes that came before him. Renzi wants to strengthen democracy by renewing the parliament's legitimacy, rather than weakening it as many voters sadly believe he is trying to do.”

Financial Times (GB) /

PM has made a mistake

The Italians may well use the referendum to punish Renzi and his government, the Financial Times also fears:

“If the referendum goes against him, Mr Renzi has said he will resign, a self-defeating announcement that has effectively turned the vote into one on him personally as well as his government’s record. This is always a danger with referendums, and making explicit the link between Mr Renzi’s future and the vote’s outcome will only encourage the people to use the ballot box to punish the administration. They will want to do so because, like much of the voting public across Europe, they are fed up. The economy is growing too slowly to deliver much tangible benefit. Meanwhile, the electorate is distracted by endless stories about corruption in the political elite.”