Nothing left to do but vote – The (almost) untold story of the Italian constitutional reform and the aftermath of the referendum

A cloud of uncertainty hovers over the future of Italian politics after the failure of the constitutional referendum by which almost 60% of voters overwhelmingly rejected Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reform. On Sunday 11th, Paolo Gentiloni, who headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been appointed prime minister-designate by President Sergio Mattarella to replace Renzi, who resigned the day after the resounding referendum debacle. After formal consultations, Gentiloni has been given the mandate to try to form a new government that will most likely be supported by the same cross-party coalition (including the Democratic Party and, among others, the center-right “Nuovo Centrodestra”) that backed Renzi, after his opponents said that it was ‘off the table’ to govern in coalition with him. Particularly, among the forces that led the No campaign, the anti-establishment, euro skeptic, and populist Five Stars Movement and Northern League, trying to leverage the outcome of the referendum, have immediately called for new elections, while Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia has taken a more prudent approach.

In addition, the degree of uncertainty is increased by the pending proceeding before the Constitutional Court where the electoral law adopted in 2015 (Italicum) has been challenged as unconstitutional. The next public hearing has been scheduled on 24 January 2017 and the judgment of the Constitutional Court is expected by many political parties to heavily impact the current scenario. Regardless of the outcome of the proceeding before the Constitutional Court, at this stage an asymmetrical system is in force: the scope of Italicum is limited to the Chamber of Deputies, as it was voted on the assumption that the Senate would have not existed anymore as such; accordingly, the election of the Senate would be governed by the controversial electoral law in force from 2005 as resulting from the Constitutional Court decision no ...

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