In a historic vote on Sunday, the citizens of Italy overwhelmingly voted “No” to a proposed reform to the country’s constitution. With 91% of ballots counted, “No” comprised 59.7% of votes. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, a staunch supporter of the “Yes” campaign, announced his resignation following the “extraordinary clear” defeat of the referendum.
“Tomorrow the President of the Republic will have a meeting with me and I will hand in my resignation,” Renzi said.
“I take on full responsibilities for defeat and so I say I lost, not you.”
The President can now try to assemble a new government from the currently existing Parliament or call for a new election.
Comedian turned politician Beppe Grillo, the founder of the 5-Star Movement arty and a prominent “No” voter told supporters, “Sovereignty is with the people, from now on we will start applying our Constitution. Let’s go immediately to the polls!”
The party has been on the rise and bases its platform on euroskepticism and ditching the continental currency.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, has called for early elections following the resignation of Prime Minister Renzi. “We need to vote as soon as possible,” Mr. Salvini told reporters.
Renzi’s referendum was on a series of constitutional reforms that the prime minister and his supporters argued would improve Italy’s government. The reforms would have weakened the Senate while also reducing its number of members from 315 to 100. The Senate is currently equal to the Chamber of Deputies, but the reforms would have also removed the chamber’s ability to have a vote of no confidence in the government. Senators are currently elected, but the reform would have ended elections and instead compose the body with regional mayors, council heads, and five members appointed by the president.