The wave of popular anger washing over Europe has claimed yet another victim. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has announced his resignation after 60% of voters rejected his plans for constitutional reform in a national referendum over the weekend, with turnout over 70%. Analysts warn that the result could plunge Italy into a political crisis (not to mention a banking crisis, as several Italian financial institutions are currently on the brink of insolvency).
The populist firebrand leader of the Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, and the head of the anti-immigrant Northern League, Matteo Salvini, are both pushing pushing for fresh elections. However, it’s still unclear whether Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, will call early elections, or whether a government can be cobbled together from a coalition of mainstream political parties.
EU leaders will be breathing a sigh of relief, however, because Austrian voters convincingly rejected a far-right candidate in presidential elections held on the same day as the Italian referendum. Nevertheless, there will be concern in EU capitals that political instability in Italy could lead to a broader crisis across the European Union.
Will the result of Italy’s referendum plunge Europe into crisis? Was Matteo Renzi right to promise to resign if he lost the referendum? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!