Monday, December 5, 2016

The Italian Job

       Were you on the edge of your seat yesterday waiting for the results of the national referendum in Italy? No? Me, neither. The media hyped the referendum as a Brexit level event, but you cannot even claim it fizzled out on the premise. The referendum was no where near as monumental as the Brexit. Yet it was one strange event.
       Here is the deal in a nutshell. The Italian Senate is huge, and full of bickering politicians who cannot get anything done. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi proposed cutting the Senate down to 100 members in order to streamline the passage of legislation to get things done faster. A 'yes” vote on yesterday's referendum meant reforming the Senate. A 'no” vote maintained the status quo. Renzi tied his political future to a “yes” vote.
       But Italy, like much of the Western world, is going through a period of rising support for national sovereignty over globalism. Renzi's reform proposal, backed by his enter/left governing majority, was viewed as globalist. Conservatives sided with tradition in keeping the Senate as is. The “no” vote won, the senate remains bloated, and Renzi has killed his political career.
       Shrinking a legislative body certainly sounds like a conservative idea, but the consensus is Renzi would have used the smaller Senate to ram through his agenda. One assume his agenda favored the European Union over national interests. Or maybe there is simply a populist backlash against the Establishment regardless of the wisdom in it. Whichever the case, Renzi blundered by promising to resign if the referendum failed. While Prime Minister David Cameron was wise to bail and leave the messy tails of the Breit to his successor, Renzi could have hung on to power relatively unscathed. Oh, well.

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