Renzi goes down to Defeat in Italian Referendum

Italy plunged into political and economic uncertainty early Monday after voters rejected a constitutional reform upon which Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had staked his government. The result is certain to reverberate across a European Union already buffeted by political upheaval and anti-establishment anger.

Ostensibly the vote was about arcane changes to Italy’s Constitution that would have streamlined government. But opposition to the reforms came from the same anti-establishment sentiment ”” spiked with skepticism of globalization, open borders and the feasibility of an ever-closer European Union ”” that has transformed the politics of a growing list of European countries.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Italy, Politics in General, Theology

7 comments on “Renzi goes down to Defeat in Italian Referendum

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Every so often, it appears that there is a year or several years of revolutions. 1848 is usually called the year of revolutions, but around 1919 there was the fall of the German, Austrian, Russian and Chinese Empires, and in 1989 there was the extraordinary and unforeseen fall of the communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe and Russia.

    The aftermath of war or the hardship of famine, austerity or the poverty of globalisation seems to precipitate these revolutions. Now in 2016-17 almost a hundred years after the Russian Revolution, we have seen Brexit, the US election, and now Italy with liberal but increasingly dictatorial governments being rejected, and we haven’t even heard from France yet where revolting is a historical national pastime; though along with Germany and the Netherlands we may hear from the French later in the new year.

    Like David Cameron’s project fear-mongering, I watched Renzi’s arrogance as he informed us that Britain would pay a high price for Brexit and he and the European Union were going to ensure that we were given no quarter. Now like Cameron he has been swept away by the deplorables at his palace gates.

    Hubris and nemesis.

    Meanwhile in its glass and marble EU palaces, the grey suited frightful old socialist politicians of France and Belgium, the last remaining relics from the 60’s who believe in world government, continue on in blithe but fearful paralysis believing that the solution is more of what has failed already, more Europe and a Eurozone which condemns Southern Europe to poverty and uncompetiveness in a system tied to and only benefiting the German economy.

    Ah well. Perhaps Britain should not be in too much of a hurry to invoke Article 50 but sit back and watch what happens in what may turn out to be another year of revolutions.

    Que sera sera. Viva la revolucion!

  2. Katherine says:

    It’s going to be an interesting ride, Pageantmaster. I note that our president-elect does not want to put the UK “at the back of the queue,” as Mr. Obama put it.

  3. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Well, I expect we will all end up just trading with Taiwan, Katherine. 🙂

  4. Kendall Harmon says:

    It is important to note that Italy is oversimplified if it is thought to be simply an anti-EU vote. There were many pro Eu people who voted no and lobbied no, perhaps most notably Mario Monti. SOME of the vote was very much against the quite substantial change to the sytem that mr Renzi requested. To an extent, then, this was an anti Renzi and anti aggressive fundamental systemic change vote, so the parallels to Brexit are not exact.

  5. MichaelA says:

    Thank you Canon Harmon – astute observations.

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    It is certainly true [4] Canon Harmon that this was not simply an anti-EU vote, and part of the reason was a coalition of those like Monti and Berlusconi joining those who were just against Renzi and the potential for a dominant party state emerging. [Italy perhaps has its reasons for caution about opening the way for this again, even at the expense of continuation of its characteristic political chaos].

    However, dismay at the way that the EU has failed to share the burden of the migrant crisis on its shores and the problems with the Euro which CEBR predicts will restrict economic growth while Italy remains in the Euro remains a driving force; CEBR also predicts that there is a less than 30% chance of Italy being in the Euro in 5 years time: that is before the restrictions on state aid for Italy’s banks is factored in deriving from Italy’s membership of the EU and Euro.

    Certainly in the aftermath of the Italian decision, I heard a former EU Commissioner state that the decision was nothing to do with a rejection of the EU or Euro and all about a rejection of the changes Renzi was pushing through, together with a rejection of Renzi’s record, and this European Commission view was then picked up by the US papers and some of their centrist Italian commenters. All is well, we are told in Euroland.

    However, the Italians on an extremely high turn out, voted by 60 percent to reject the proposals, almost 10 percent more than voted for Brexit. Notwithstanding that in Brexit too, voters were also rejecting domestic political leadership as well as European and with both the 5 star movement and Northern League in Italy pushing for leaving the Euro and going back to an earlier and less centrist relationship within Europe, the Italians have not finished yet.

    It is worth remembering that it was a small political party with only one MP in the UK [UKIP] which forced the government to open the way for a referendum and Brexit. The groundswell in Italy is far stronger than what we had in the UK within mainstream politics, and the parties far to the right of anything we have in parliament.

    The Italians have not finished yet. So we will have to see what happens. Will they follow us with a move to Itaxit or Euroxit, or will they follow the Austrian rejection of the right in their mainly symbolic election of a President?

  7. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    [2] Katherine – thinking about your point on perhaps a new openness in the US administration in waiting, the US has some of the toughest trade negotiators in the world. Contra the view of the President-elect, the US has used the World Trade Organisation to prise open the markets of other countries to more efficiently and more cheaply produced US produce than those countries can support themselves. This has opened the way to bananas, grain and GM crops being introduced at the expense of for example West Indian banana exporters and local grain farmers.

    That said, for the UK, the Commission is organising a collective approach to freeze out the UK, unless we agree and pay virtually what we do as members. It is not a matter of trade negotiation for the Commission, but of political survival. The commission has appointed a former French foreign minister as its lead negotiator, so you can see where this is going.

    There is little prospect without us being a lot tougher and cracking the whip in terms of our European defence commitment to the East European and Baltic countries in the EU, who have been going along with Brussels. Britain spends the same per capita on its military as the US does and it is Britain’s military along with the US which keeps these countries safe. We will also have to threaten hikes in import duties on German cars and French wine and produce if our financial services area is not to be frozen out.

    Still things are moving fast in Euroland, and as I mentioned above in some senses we would be advised to let things develop and see what happens politically in France, Holland and Germany, not to mention Italy, as reality bites.

    The UK certainly needs as many friends as it can and the change of tone from the President-elect from that of the President is a welcome and encouraging one, and for that we should be grateful and seize the opportunity for a fresh start in our already considerable trans Atlantic relationship. Mrs May might be better advised to concentrate on this rather than schmoozing the Gulf Arabs, and I would not suggest that she sends Boris Johnson to the US.