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Martin J. Bull

On 25–26 June 2006—the 60th anniversary of the Constituent Assembly’s

commencement of its work drafting the Italian Constitution (25

June 1946)—a referendum was held that called on the Italian people

to accept or reject a package of proposals that had been passed by the

center-right majority in November 2005 and that promised to rewrite

radically a substantial part of that document. Following the national

elections (April), local elections (May), and (parliamentary) election of

the president of the Republic (May), the referendum was, in many ways,

an electoral appointment that was one too many, as was evidenced in

a lackluster campaign by the parties. This is ironic because it could be

regarded as the most significant consultation of Italian voters for many

years. In any event, the voters delivered a decisive verdict, rejecting by

a large majority the proposals for constitutional revision.

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Renzi Removed

The 2016 Italian Constitutional Referendum and Its Outcome

Martin J. Bull

The referendum of 4 December 2016 on Renzi’s proposed constitutional reform was the most significant in Italy since the referendum that rejected Berlusconi’s proposal in 2006. The 2016 outcome was more dramatic than its predecessor as it resulted in the resignation of the prime minister, who was succeeded in the office by Paolo Gentiloni. The referendum campaign was less concerned with the merits of the reform itself than with delivering an electoral verdict on the Renzi government. This was caused partly by Renzi himself, who declared that he would resign if the referendum failed, and partly by the inevitable partisanship of much of the voting and the influence of populist parties, which tapped into the dissatisfaction that many Italian voters felt. With two popular rejections of “great reform” proposals in the space of a decade, the future of institutional reform on such a grand scale is now in doubt.