High Voting Activity in Italy's ReferendumEU | December 4, 2016, Sunday // 16:41| views
A constitutional referendum is being held in Italy. It started at 7 am local time and will continue until 11 pm.
Voting activity until 12 pm local time was 20.10%. The record was set in Bologna – nearly 27%.
Voters must say “yes” or “no” to the amendment of 47 of the total of 139 articles of the constitution adopted by Parliament but without the necessary majority of 2/3 of the votes which led to the referendum.
The reforms are formulated in a question for the overcoming of the equal two-chamber Parliament, reduction of the number of deputies, curtailing of the operational expenditures of the institutions, abolition of the National Economic and Social Council.
Italians are faced with a fundamental choice: changes in the constitution aimed at concentrating power in the government or rejection of the changes in order to preserve democratic mechanisms of checks and balances.
The referendum will also determine the future of PM Matteo Renzi who threatened to resign if the majority votes “no”.
Renzi claims that the reforms will speed up the process of taking decisions and will contribute to the more stable governing of Italy – a country which has changed 63 cabinets and 27 prime ministers since 1946.
Renzi’s loss would be viewed as yet another protest vote of the Western electorate after the referendum in Britain for leaving the European Union and the victory of Donald Trump in the USA. It will be linked to the presidential elections in Austria where a far right candidate may emerge as the victor.
It is not clear who might succeed Renzi and this uncertainty scares the markets. According to the most dramatic forecasts a political paralysis in Italy could lead to the coming to power of the Five Stars movement with its platform to leave the EU which could cause a crisis in the entire bloc.
Italians living abroad have already voted – their voting ended on December 1. 40% of them exercised their right to vote, or 1.6 million people. The counting of their votes will start together with the rest of the votes after 11 pm.