The Latest: Renzi resigns after losing reforms referendum

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Posted: Dec 04, 2016 6:41 PM
The Latest: Renzi resigns after losing reforms referendum

ROME (AP) — The Latest on Italy's referendum on constitutional reforms (all times local):

12:25 a.m.

ROME — Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says he is resigning after a stinging defeat on a constitutional reforms referendum that he staked his premiership on.

"Good luck to us all," Renzi told reporters after saying he would tell a Cabinet meeting Monday afternoon he is resigning. Then he will tender his resignation to the Italian president after 2 1/2 years in office.

Renzi conceded defeat after exit polls showed his proposal losing by a margin of about 60 percent to 40 percent in Sunday's referendum.

Renzi said the reforms would have cut Italy's bureaucracy and made the country more competitive. His opponents were hoping to tap into the populist sentiment that has been gaining ground in Europe and the U.S.

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11:40 p.m.

Early returns show Italian Premier Matteo Renzi's constitutional reforms proposal is trailing in a referendum on which he staked his political future.

With ballots counted Sunday night from about 1,100 out of 61,000 polling stations, the "No" votes were leading by a margin of roughly 60 percent to 40 percent over the "Yes" votes.

Opposition leader Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigrant Northern League, said that if the exit polls are confirmed, the referendum will be a "victory of the people against the strong powers of three-quarters of the world." Some read the referendum as an outlet for growing anti-establishment, populist sentiment in Europe.

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11:20 p.m.

Italian opposition leaders say if exit polls are confirmed, the constitutional reforms referendum backed by Premier Matteo Renzi has failed, and are demanding that he resign. Renato Brunetta, a center-right leader, pointed to exit polls indicating that Renzi's reform proposal is losing by a margin of roughly 55 percent to 45 percent. Exit polls in Italy have proven unreliable in the past, and Brunetta cautioned that his demand that Renzi resign depends on the actual results, which might not be known for hours.

Renzi, who scheduled an appearance for the media at about midnight (2300 GMT), an hour after polls closed, had pledged to quit if voters rejected the reforms he says would have modernized Italy. So the referendum was widely seen as a plebiscite on the Democrat's 2 ½ years in office.

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7:50 p.m.

Four hours before the scheduled close of polls, more than 57 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots in Italy's referendum on constitutional reforms promoted by Premier Matteo Renzi's government.

The Interior Ministry put the turnout Sunday at 7 p.m. at 57.47 percent based on data from nearly all polling stations. Counting of the ballots was to begin right after the close of voting at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT).

Renzi, who says the reforms will cut Italy's bureaucracy and make the country more competitive, has said he will resign if the referendum fails. At 41, he is Italy's youngest premier.

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1:50 p.m.

Italy's interior ministry says turnout in voting on a referendum on constitutional reforms was 20.14 percent of eligible voters by noon on Sunday.

The turnout is on par with the European elections in May 2014, when 20.48 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots by noon.

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11:30 a.m.

Premier Matteo Renzi has cast his ballot in a referendum on constitutional reforms that will be decisive for his political future.

Renzi voted at a balloting station in Pontassieve, a Tuscan town about 14 kilometers (nine miles) east of Florence, the city where he was mayor before becoming premier 2 ½ years ago. He was accompanied by his wife, Agnese Landini, who also voted.

After marking the ballot in a booth, Renzi posed for photographers and dropped the form into the ballot box.

Renzi has said he will resign if the referendum fails, although how that plays out politically is likely to depend on the turnout and the margin of the decision.

Renzi is expected to return to Rome later this afternoon to watch the outcome of the vote.

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11 a.m.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has cast his ballot in the referendum on constitutional reforms that is being closely watched abroad to see if Italy is the next country to reject the political status quo.

The former three-time premier has said he would vote "No." He shook hands with election officials and posed for photographers after voting in the capital, Rome.

Berlusconi's Forza Italia party is largely in disarray, with a tax fraud conviction keeping the 80-year-old center-right leader out of public office.

Premier Matteo Renzi says he will resign if the reforms are rejected, and opposition politicians have vowed to press for a new government if voters reject the proposed constitutional changes.

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8:05 a.m.

Italians are voting in a referendum on constitutional reforms that is being closely watched abroad to see if Italy is the next country to reject the political status quo.

Premier Matteo Renzi says he will resign if the reforms are rejected in Sunday's vote, and opposition politicians have vowed to press for a new government if voters reject the proposed constitutional changes.

The risk of political instability has triggered market reaction before the vote, with bank stocks sinking and the borrowing costs on sovereign debt rising.

The referendum aims to streamline Italy's cumbersome lawmaking process by reducing the powers of the Senate while also removing some key decision-making powers from regions.

Polls are open Sunday for 16 hours starting at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT).