Italian voters appear to have rejected constitutional reforms that would have strengthened the Prime Minister’s powers and given regions greater autonomy.
Projections based on partial results from the two- day referendum put the “no” vote at between 59 and 61 per cent. Turnout was reportedly over 50 percent although no minimum required for the referendum to be valid.
Opponents of the bill, including the current centre-left government led by Romano Prodi, said the changes would split the nation and end up costing billions of euros.
Franco Bassanini, of the Left Democrats, says: “Defending our constitution does not mean freezing. Rather, it means being open to reforms backed by the majority of Italians, and reforms that are coherent with the basic principles and values of our republican charter.”
Fabrizio Cicchitto of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party says: “People did not vote according along party lines. That means that when you have turnout like that, at around 50 per cent, it’s sure the centre right will lose. Because our electorate is not particularly militant.”
The constitutional reforms were passed by Berlusconi’s last government. The centre-right said they would bring stability to Italy’s governments, of which there have been 61 since 1945.