Italian Prime Minister pushes political reform referendum

World Today

Italian Prime Minister pushes political reform referendum

European leaders are closely monitoring a high-stakes referendum taking in Italy in the coming days.The measure would reduce the powers of Italy’s Senate and centralized power.

CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reports from Rome.
Follow Kate Parkinson on Twitter @KTP_news

Italian Prime Minister pushes political reform referendum

European leaders are closely monitoring a high-stakes referendum taking in Italy in the coming days. The measure would reduce the powers of Italy's Senate and centralized power. CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reports from Rome.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has staked his political future on Sunday’s referendum.

He’s urging Italians to vote in favor of his political reforms or face decades of stagnation–adding he will resign if he loses.

What Renzi is proposing is a dramatic shake-up of Italy’s political system, including reducing the size and power of the Senate to an advisory role on most laws, much like the upper houses in Germany, Spain and Britain. The proposal would effectively centralize power, transferring some key-decision making powers from Italy’s regions back to Rome.

But only lawmakers and academics see the vote in these narrow terms.

For most people, the referendum has turned into a plebiscite on the Prime Minister’s performance, as well as being populism’s next big test.

Polls show a defeat is likely, which could trigger a period of political instability.

And if Renzi resigns, there are fears across Europe that it could lead to a full-blown banking crisis, taking down several lenders.

It could also clear the way for the populist Five Star Movement to get a foothold in government. That sparks fear that the anti-establishment parties may call for a referendum on whether Italy should leave the Euro.

So while on the surface Sunday’s referendum is about changes to Italy’s constitution, it’s also potentially a vote on the future on the European Union and the eurozone in an era of resurgent populism around the world.