Italy: Election day’s results support government continuity, for the time being

The election day which combined the constitutional referendum with 7 regional elections was not disruptive for the government coalition members, reducing the scope of short-term political risk."

Rome, Sept.21.– An electoral law reform is likely to add to an already challenging list of recovery fund-linked reforms.

Italians strongly in favour of trimming the number of MPs

The referendum question submitted to voters asked them whether they wanted to confirm the constitutional laws proposing the reduction of the total number of Italian MPs to 600 (from 945), which had already been passed by votes in both branches of the Italian parliament. Opinion polls published before the 15-day blackout period preceding the vote had anticipated the victory of the Yes vote (confirming the reduction) with a range of 65% to 70% of votes in favour.

The vote followed a dull campaign, in which most party leaders expressed a preference driven either by consistency with previous parliamentary votes (this is the case of Salvini, the leader of the League, and by Meloni, the leader of Fratelli d’Italia, which had supported the reduction in the parliamentary passages) or by government alliance concerns (the case of Zingaretti, the leader of the PD party, which had opposed the reform in the parliamentary passages and quietly supported it during the referendum campaign) rather than by strong conviction. 

Only the 5SM, and more notably Di Maio, the current foreign minister of the Italian government and former leader of the 5SM, campaigned actively for the approval of the constitutional amendment. The referendum, which did not require a quorum, had a 53.8% turnout. It was a relatively high number, possibly helped by the concurrence with the regional vote for some 18 million voters.

In line with what opinion polls had anticipated, the referendum ultimately approved the reduction by a very ample margin, with 69.9% in favour and 30.1% against.

The referendum result a victory for the 5SM, and positive for the government coalition

The referendum result is politically relevant because the reduction in the number of MPs has historically been one the strongholds in the political offer of the 5SM ...

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