Rome: Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi officially resigned Monday after a crushing defeat of the crushing referendum that sent shock waves throughout Europe – though his departure will be delayed by one last task, passing a budget.
Renzi handed in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella after the Italians firmly rejected his proposals for constitutional reform in Sunday’s referendum, to the delight of the populist leaders of the country, just after the American victory of Brexit and Donald Trump.
The departure of the center-left prime minister – who had staked his future on the outcome of the vote – plunges Italy into political uncertainty and cast a shadow over the future of the eurozone’s third economy.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks at a press conference. ReutersItalian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks at a press conference. Reuters
In an apparent attempt to relieve investor fears, the presidency said in a statement that Mattarella had “asked the Prime Minister to postpone his resignation” until the 2017 budget was adopted, a move expected towards the end Of the week, according to Italian media.
The government has already obtained a vote of confidence on the budget of the Lower House of Parliament.
Renzi, who became the youngest Italian Prime Minister in 2014, had no choice but to give up after his proposals to rationalize the parliament were rejected by the voters by a decisive margin of 59-41 for hundred.
The former mayor of Florence, aged 41, came to power promising radical reform, defended his record.
“1000 difficult but wonderful days, thanks to everyone, Viva l’Italia”, he writes on Facebook.
The Italian media said that he had told his cabinet that he had agreed to see the budget spent before his departure “by a sense of responsibility”.
The initial market reaction from Renzi was mastered.
The euro briefly declined to a low of 20 months, investors fearing that political instability could spoil efforts to solve the debt of Italy’s long-standing banking crisis, and on the possibility of an election Which could see the anti-EU parties challenge for power.
The Italian stock index FTSE MIB dropped 2.0 percent at the opening, but recovered at the end of the day only fractional down. Italian bond yields rose slightly, having already slightly increased before Sunday’s vote.
Merchants were reassured in part by the result of Europe’s other crucial vote this weekend, which saw Austria rejecting an extreme right-wing candidate for the president.
But some analysts said that the referendum could still be considered a milestone.
Holger Schmieding, at private bank Berenberg, said the risk that Italy will choose to leave the euro, although still distant, has increased.
Capital Economics said: “Italy took the first leg on a path that could pull it out of the eurozone.”
An anti-establishment vote
Voting has inevitably become a referendum on Renzi’s personality and record after his commitment to withdraw if he loses, and an occasion for some to express wider frustrations.
Populists across Europe rejoiced in his fall, with the founder of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star movement Beppe Grillo calling for an election “in a week.”
Giovanni Orsina, a professor of politics at Luiss University in Rome, said four of the five voters had voted politically rather than on the merits of the reform.
“The vote has broad similarities with the phenomena Brexit and Trump,” he said. “The electorate voted against the establishment, against Brussels, they have not entered the subtleties.”
The survey data show that the vote No was strongest in regions with high unemployment in the relatively poor south and among young voters, which shows a correlation with levels of discontent.
The British Euroceptic Nigel Farage, who headed the “Brexit” campaign, said the vote seemed to have been “more about the euro than the constitutional change.”
But former Bank of Italy economist Lorenzo Codgno insisted: “The outcome of the referendum is much more complex and nuanced than just a new wave of protests throughout the world.”
Padoan favorite for the new PM
Most analysts believe that immediate elections are unlikely.
The most likely scenario is an interim administration dominated by the Renzi Democratic Party, which takes over before an election is due to take place in March 2018.
Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan was installed as the favorite of the bookmakers to succeed Renzi as prime minister, with Pietro Grasso, a former anti-mafia prosecutor, in second place.
Meanwhile, Renzi may try to stay ahead of his party, which would leave him well positioned for a potential return to front line politics in the upcoming elections. But he faces resistance to this scenario of the many enemies he has made during his tenure.