Monday, December 5, 2016
Italy's prime minister resigns after landslide defeat in referendum vote
Italy's prime minister, Matteo Renzi, announced his resignation in Rome shortly after midnight on Monday after losing a critical referendum battle on which he staked his political career.
"Italy has chosen. Now it's up to those who won to make proposals," Renzi said during a news conference at Palazzo Chigi, the prime minster's residence, in Rome. "I take all responsibility for the defeat."
Italian voters on Sunday rejected changes that would have significantly cut the number of senators in Italy's government, a move Renzi argued would significantly cut bureaucracy in Italy — an obscure debate were it not for Renzi's declaration earlier this year that he would resign if "Yes" did not win.
"No" won by a large margin, with results showing 60% to 40% in its favor at the time of publication.
The result is seen as a rejection of Renzi and his leadership, and it leaves an opening for Beppe Grillo and his increasingly powerful populist Five Star Movement to fill the void.
"I have lost," Renzi said. "I believe in democracy. I am not looking the other way."
"My government experience ends here," he added.
Renzi is leaving after just 2 1/2 years in office. The 41-year-old former mayor of Florence was seen by his supporters as a breath of fresh air, and his vow to eradicate crippling bureaucracy earned him the nickname "Demolition Man" from his critics.
Instead, Renzi's policies saw little impact, and the Five Star Movement began tapping into the wave of nationalist populism spreading through the West since Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
When it became clear around midnight in Italy that "No" won a decisive victory, the euro began dropping sharply. The currency was down by 0.9% at 1.0573 against the dollar as of 7:19 p.m. ET. It fell earlier as low as 1.0506 against the dollar, its lowest level since March 2015.
Business Insider Italia reporter Giuliano Balestreri weighed in after Renzi's speech:
Renzi will meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday morning to formally submit his resignation. Italian media are floating Italy's economy minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, and its Senate chairman, Pietro Grasso, as leading candidates to replace Renzi.