Rome- Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is risking his political future just like British PM David Cameron did when he bet on carrying out a referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union.
Cameron’s risk did not work out and the results were totally opposite from what he hoped for, forcing him to resign from his political post. This could also be Renzi’s future.
The 41-year-old premier is hoping for a last-minute turnaround in voter sentiment, having pledged to quit in the event of a “No.”
The possibility of Renzi stepping down from power has focused the campaign on his record, exacerbating fears of political instability and economic turbulence in the Eurozone’s third-biggest economy should he be forced out.
At the same time Renzi was campaigning in Florence, where he was formerly mayor, urging supporters to convince the undecided.
“There are so many of them and we must go and seek them out, one-by-one, because everything will be decided in these 48 hours,” he said.
The possibility that it could turn into a tight race has energized Italians abroad, for whom voting ended on Thursday.
A “No” vote would be seen as bolstering the populist Five Star Movement as well as the anti-immigrant, anti-EU Northern League.
At stake is whether to slash the size and powers of the second chamber Senate and transfer other powers from the regions to the national government.
Renzi says this will mean more effective leadership of a country that has had 60 governments since the constitution was approved in 1948. And it seems certain some disgruntled voters will vote “No” as a protest — either against Renzi or the years of economic stagnation.
Former premier Silvio Berlusconi initially gave his blessing to the proposed reforms but switched sides as the rising tide of opposition put Renzi’s job on the line.
“Go out and vote so that Renzi doesn’t become our boss and the boss of Italy,” he said on Friday.
Notably, Renzi was just 39 when he came to power via an internal party coup in February 2014. Renzi rose from local government in Florence to running Italy in the space of only a few months.
Nearly three years later, Sunday’s constitutional referendum could send the youthful prime minister sliding back down the greasy pole of politics, temporarily at least.