“Political Populism: Is Italy Next?” James Politi, Financial Times, 18 November 2016

“If the Italian Prime Minister loses a high-stakes referendum on his flagship constitutional reform set for December 4, it could bring his tenure in office — and his entire political project — to an abrupt and premature end”.

If Renzi loses the referendum, it could be the end of his political project and the hope of the country to be reformed will be destroyed. Although opinion polls show an average of 5-8 percentage points in favour of “No”, Renzi hopes to make a comeback at the end. The “No” will also bring investors’ distrust on the eurozone’s third largest economy. After Brexit and the recent victory of Donald Trump, some people think that Italy will be the next to fall. Italy’s opposition parties like Grillo’s Five Star Movement or the Northern League, led by Salvini, want Italy out of the Eurozone, and they hope Renzi’s defeat will help them gain power in the next elections in 2018. At first, Renzi’s victory seemed secure, but during these months, the trend has changed, and Renzi is fighting to save his political position, because he has personified too much the referendum, by stating that if he loses he will resign and leave politics. The opposition took advantage of this and saw an opportunity to eject the Prime Minister. Renzi has struggled with a political and economic situation much harder than he expected. The economy has improved, but in a disappointing way. The country’s banks have suffered a series of  market sell-offs during the past year. Some critics claim that the reform itself is not convincing: the reduction of the Senate’s powers will remove a vital control on the Executive, and the way its new members will be elected (nominated by local and regional authorities) will not bring competence and accountability. At the beginning, Renzi had a good reputation: he won the European elections and even outsmarted Silvio Berlusconi to have Sergio Mattarella elected as President. But he has lost control during the campaign. He even hired Jim Messina, ex Director of Obama’s campaign, to help with the strategy, despite his inability win David Cameron’s referendum. But there is still hope for Renzi: if he wins, he will be closer to transforming Italy and even relaunching his economic reforms. But, more important, it can guarantee his victory of the national elections of 2018. If the referendum turns outa “No”, it would leave the fate of the Italian Government in the hands of Mr. Mattarella and Italy might drown in political instability.

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“Political Populism: Is Italy Next?” James Politi, Financial Times, 18 November 2016


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