The Italian Referendum Victory

Nikil Saval in n + 1:

ScreenHunter_2424 Dec. 06 18.05The “NO” vote triumph is being assimilated in the Anglo-American press to the broad journalistic narrative of “anti-establishment populist revolt.” But the message to be derived from it is distinct from the votes for Brexit, or for Trump; for once this year (twice, if you include the narrow escape in Austria), a vote brings good news.

The campaign for Italian constitutional reform was characterized by lies, wishful fantasies, and projections. Immensely complicated and virtually incomprehensible as a written document, the constitutional reform had nonetheless a simple goal: to eliminate an entire chamber of the legislature and reduce the proportional representation of Italian voters, and thereby increase the power of the centrist parties and the prime minister, on the idea that it would make Italian governance easier. The details of the referendum were hashed out by Silvio Berlusconi and the vacuous puffin Matteo Renzi, current leader of the centrist Democratic Party (PD), before the latter had even entered Parliament.

The nature of the support made it obvious who expected to benefit. “Basta un sì” was pushed by Confindustria, the major business federation; JP Morgan; Wolfgang Schäuble; Jean-Claude Juncker; Sergio Marchionne; Barack Obama. (Berlusconi, cannily, turned against his own deal, once he recognized that its passage would tilt forces away from the Right in favor of Renzi.)

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