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Anti-Establishment Wins Referendum, Italian Prime Minister Resigns

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his immediate resignation after Italians shot down his referendum on constitutional reforms Sunday night.

Renzi put his reputation on the line by calling a referendum on constitutional reforms to make it easier for the government to rule.  Exit polls gave the “No” side between 54-58 percent, and Renzi quickly admitted defeat.

“I take full responsibility for this defeat,” Renzi said, adding he couldn’t disregard the “extraordinarily clear results.”

Among the reforms were a cut in the number of seats in the upper-house Senate, slashing unproductive constitutional bodies and centralizing more power to the executive.

The results are big win for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the populist Northern League Party.

Northern League leader Matteo Salvini called it a “victory of the people against the strong powers of three-quarters of the world.”

[dcquiz] Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan or Senate speaker Pietro Grasso are frontrunners to succeed Renzi in a caretaker government. The new government is expected to push for a reversal of a new electoral law created by the Renzi administration, which gives a winning party with more than 40 percent of the votes extra seats to form a majority government. The establishment fears the Five Star Movement will gain power if the electoral laws aren’t changed by the next election.

The opposition now wants a referendum on whether Italy should keep the euro as its currency. The euro immediately fell against the dollar after the results became clear.

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