Italians should vote in favour of the reforms sponsored by their prime minister, Matteo Renzi, according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
In an interview with an Italian daily newspaper, La Stampa, on November 26, Juncker said Renzi was carrying out the right reforms and added that the country’s budget for next year was complying with EU rules.
“I don’t know whether I would be useful to Renzi saying I would like to see ‘Yes’ win, I just say I would not like to see ‘No’ prevailing [in the December 4 referendum],” Juncker said. “Italy is a great nation and Renzi has contributed to this, we have to admit this,” he added.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Renzi has promised to resign if he loses the ballot over his proposal to reduce the role of the Senate and transfer powers to central government from the regions.
Opinion polls conducted until a blackout period began last week showed the ‘No’ vote comfortably in the lead, prompting volatility in equity and government bond markets as investors fret about the political instability that could follow.
Meanwhile, Renzi has attacked the Commission several times, saying it is run by bureaucrats, and he has asked for funds and support in dealing with an increasing flow of migrants arriving in the country from the Mediterranean.
In his interview with La Stampa, Juncker said the Commission would work to convince all European countries to share the burden with Rome.
“Italy is an essential part of Europe, should we lose it as Europe’s architect, inspirer and artisan, it would not be the same,” he said.
The ‘No’ camp supporters include the eurosceptic 5-Star Movement and the Northern League, other right-wing parties and some dissenters within Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party.
In a separate report, The Independent noted that the election of Donald Trump to the American presidency is causing turmoil in Italian politics. The December 4 referendum sets the stage for Italy to host the third major anti-establishment protest shock of 2016, before we’ve even had the chance fully to digest the news of Trump and Brexit.
The Five Star Movement has crowed Donald Trump’s election as evidence of a protest movement sweeping the West. It is calling on Italians to seize the opportunity of the referendum to join in.
According to The Independent, a ‘No’ vote in the referendum would signal not just the rejection of the reform but the end of the Renzi experiment.
If this is to be Renzi’s fate, the result will be instability, if not chaos. That’s not because the country will immediately go to an election, but rather because it will be unrealistic to do so.
The potential paralysis that this would create makes it inevitable that further electoral reform would immediately have to follow a rejection of the constitutional reform. And if Renzi resigned, it would mean bringing in yet another transitional government to implement such a reform, reported The Independent.