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Matteo Renzi Has Officially Resigned After Italian Voters Rejected Constitutional Reform

At 7 p.m. (18:00 GMT) on Wednesday the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history officially tendered his resignation

The dramatic end to his short-lived, two-year political career comes after 59.11% of Italians voted against his referendum for constitutional reform on Sunday.

Renzi’s reforms focused on clearer policies to harness Italy’s complex political system, one that has witnessed over 60 different governments in the last 70 years. His proposed policies aimed to make the passing of new legislation easier, and reduce the Senate from 315 to 100.

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Italian Ex Prime Minister Matteo Renzi

After earlier projections of a 61% pro-referendum vote, his defeat is devastating.

Even after the far-reaching ramifications of Brexit, experts agree that Renzi’s attempt at constitutional reform is Europe’s most significant political event of 2016. However, many analysts and pundits also believe that while the ‘No’ vote was ostensibly against the referendum, it actually represents Italy’s growing sentiments of euroscepticism.

Most vocal of the ‘No’ vote campaigners was comedian-turned-politician, Beppe Grillo. Leader of the populist, anti-EU, anti-establishment, Five Star Movement (5SM), his advice to fellow Italian citizens was to, “vote with your guts, not with your brain”.

Beppe Grillo, leader of the Five Star Movement
Beppe Grillo, leader of the Five Star Movement

One of 5SM’s major issues with Renzi’s constitutional changes was that the majority of power would fall to the Prime Minister, thus creating a government of bureaucrats and elites.

“Today the caste in power lost,” crowed Luigi Di Maio, another 5SM leader after the polls came in on Sunday.

Renzi’s stepping down as Prime Minister marks the end of Italy’s 63rd government in seven decades. His came into being in 2014, after an internal political coup that isolated left-leaning members of his Democratic Party. However, his government was only one of four to have lasted more than 1,000 days.

To explore his options to move forward, President Sergio Mattarella will consult with leaders from Italy’s political parties today.