After the Italian Referendum

What Comes Next

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks at a press conference in Rome following the December 4 constitutional referendum, December 2016. Tony Gentile / Reuters

Sometimes the polls are right. In Italy, the last polls published before Sunday’s referendum showed a widening opposition to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s proposed constitutional reform package. Although there were rumors that the contest had tightened up in the last two weeks, when polls could not legally be published, the government ultimately lost by a wide margin. Just under 60 percent of the Italian electorate voted against Renzi’s package, whereas just over 40 percent supported it (turnout was a historically high 65.5 percent.) Renzi, speaking just after midnight on Monday morning, acknowledged defeat. He thanked the country for its involvement in the debate and for the high level of participation. He also made it clear that he would tender his resignation.

Yet while Renzi’s resignation will attract headlines, it is hardly the end of the story. Italy now needs a new government and likely some electoral reform, but there

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