Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on October 2 that the government will not resign whatever happens in the December 4 referendum on constitutional reform.
The reform is aimed to sharply reduce the role of the Senate, stripping it of the power to bring down governments or block legislation indefinitely.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has repeatedly said he would step down if he loses the referendum, argues that the reform will help bring much-need political stability to Italy, which has seen 63 governments take office in some 70 years.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, most recent polls have put the ‘no’ camp ahead, raising concern in EU capitals that Italy might find itself without a strong government at a time when the bloc is still reeling from Britain’s vote to abandon the European Union.
“Whoever agrees with the content of this reform, but votes ‘no’ only because they want to send Renzi packing should know that this government will not quit, so you might as well vote ‘yes’,” Alfano told Il Messaggero newspaper.
He said the ‘no’ camp consisted of a broad alliance of parties that shared no other common ground. “Therefore this is the only government possible,” he said.
According to Reuters, if the referendum is lost, Italy will almost certainly need a new electoral law, because the current version was drawn up in the anticipation of a ‘yes’ vote and therefore only concerns the lower house of parliament. The constitutional reform calls for an end to a directly elected Senate, the upper house.
Another complication is the fact that Italy hosts top level meetings for the Group of Seven next year, and any early election would stymie preparations.