THE NOTE

The passion of Matteo Renzi

The referendum in Italy turned out to be a massive vote against one thousand days of government

As forceful and direct as the man himself: thus was the defeat of Matteo Renzi. The Italian Prime Minister bet double or nothing, and the people handed him a resounding defeat, adding him to the long list of toppled Italian prime ministers.

The failure of the referendum on constitutional reform is not a vote against Europe, but it could deeply destabilize one of the main economies and one of the worst banking systems in the Eurozone, which is experiencing a shaky recovery from the sovereign debt crisis. The referendum turned out to be a massive vote against one thousand days of government. A diverse confederacy of enemies worked against Renzi's daring move to challenge the electorate and become the guarantor of drastic change in a country where nothing changes, the country of Gattopardo.

Many forces worked for the defeat, each with its own motivations: the 5-Star Movement, the Northern League, the populist Right, some of Berlusconi’s followers, part of the Democratic Party, the anti-Renzi Left, and anti-establishment groups. Also contributing, as in other countries, were rage against unemployment, precariousness, uncertainty, growing poverty, and immigration. The people can see the future slipping through their hands, and they punished those at the helm.

It remains to be seen who can form a government and how the crisis affecting the country's third-largest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, will be overcome without rattling the euro. These are bad times for European social-democracy, which is left in the hands of Manuel Valls: allez!

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