‘The people have spoken, the bastards.’ Dick Tuck, 1966.
Two years after the elections for the European Parliament, Renzi essentially confirms he can reach out to 40% of the voters. But there is one crucial difference: back in 2014 it was a huge victory, this time it is a bitter defeat. In the end, the ‘Yes’ vote in the constitutional referendum reached a majority of the votes only in Trentino Alto-Adige, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and in all the foreign constituencies.
Renzi lost his enormous political capital when he stopped showing his vision and turned into a tactician, when he ceased to be an outsider and became ‘one of them’. Interestingly, in his very gracious resignation speech he never mentioned the party of which he is secretary. This is a worrying sign for a political group that was already internally fragmented, with members scattered around a variety of different positions and even different places during the scrutiny of the votes. Renzi’s lack of recognition to the party, however, might be due to the fact that he wants to take full and sole responsibility for this electoral loss.
But while the defeat clearly has one father, the victory has many. Following the referendum results all the usual suspects are coming out of the woodwork: politicians who have been kept floating for over twenty years – Calderoli, D’Alema, Berlusconi, Bersani. Alas, I keep thinking that it would have been easier to change Prime Minister differently. I don’t know, for instance by coming out with a credible alternative plan and a leader. At the moment I still cannot see any.
Italy now is the latest European country to be plunged into a political crisis by an anti-establishment surge. There is little doubt on the fact that this was a vote against the incumbents rather than on the Constitution, since the vast majority of the people interviewed did not even know -or deliberately decided to ignore- the contents of the reform that was on the ballot.
Tomorrow morning, Italians will realise there is a major banking issue to be handled, which was put on hold until the referendum. We will also realise there are widening risk premiums in eurozone sovereign bonds and a *very* fragile economic recovery. Good luck, to all of us.