After the Italian Referendum, Instability, but No Collapse

The “no” vote in the referendum on Italian constitutional reform will lead to further political turmoil and instability in the country, Raffaele Marchetti, Professor of International Relations at the LUISS Guido Carli University of Rome told

Marchetti noted that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi remains the most powerful politician in Italy, even despite the loss. According to Marchetti, the referendum enabled the other political parties to unite against Renzi, leading to his defeat.

“He is defeated, but we need to remember that he almost alone took 40 percent, so he remains the strongest political force in Italy. Of course, he is defeated because all the others together are 60 percent. He is defeated, but remains a very important political actor, and I would say the largest political actor in Italy,” Marchetti said in a telephone interview Monday.

Marchetti also noted that the referendum became a vote on Renzi himself, which his opponents took advantage of. This led to Renzi’s defeat at the referendum, but also a show of strength.

“Perhaps, Renzi was expecting too much from the referendum. Of course, for him it was an attempt to win and then to control more of the political system, but by calling it, he provided an opportunity to all the other parties left and right to unite against him,” Marchetti added.

What’s Next for Italy After Nation Rejects Constitutional Reform at Referendum Ettore Greco
Renzi’s fall deals an indirect blow to those leaders in Europe, including the German chancellor Angela Merkel, who have pinned their best hopes on his reform agenda. Moreover, despite Renzi’s frequent outbursts against the austerity policy advocated by the EU institutions, he and his allies in the government coalition hold a much more pro-European stance than most of the opposition parties.

When it comes to consequences for Italy’s economy, Marchetti said that the vote could lead to some financial turmoil, particularly in the Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which has been facing continued difficulties in the Italian banking crisis. Marchetti also said that the vote would not lead to collapse of the Italian banking system, although it could mean higher interest rates.

Discussing the future of the Italian government, Marchetti said that he expects a technocratic government to step in until the elections.

“The most likely outcome is that he is going to resign from the government, but he will not resign from the leadership of his party. He will step back for a while, maybe a technocratic government will be appointed, and then there would be new elections in 2017,” Marchetti told

As for Renzi, Marchetti believes that there is still potential for him to regain power in the 2017 elections, as the referendum showed that he remains a powerful candidate.

“Of course, this is a serious blow to his credibility, but he is not excluding running again for the elections. That is definitely a possibility for him,” Marchetti said.

The referendum also killed any hope for political reforms in Italy, according to Marchetti, although minor reforms not linked to the referendum are still possible.

“There won’t be any reforms, only minor reforms of the electoral system because there are technical issues and because the electoral reform that was passed was linked to this referendum. But there will not be any major reforms, everything will remain as it is. The vote was precisely against any change,” Marchetti concluded.

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