Failure of the Constitutional Reform in Italy

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-6-41-47

K. Kholodkovskii (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The article deals with a negative result of the constitutional referendum in Italy which became another demonstration of the ’populist wave’ in the Western world. It is shown that the Italian society of the early XXIst century, suffering from both traditional and newly found disorders, needs structural reforms, but neither social forces, nor political mechanisms are ready for them. Instead of a concise balance of social forces, there is a formless community divided in clans, instead of powerful parties with definite ideologies – uninfluential political actors, disintegrated political groups. The paper presents detailed characteristics of the new political elite which came to the front in recent years – the Five Stars Movement (M5S) created by the comedian actor B. Grillo as an anti-party striving for removal of the whole political establishment, replacement of the representative democracy by a direct democracy, return to the national currency, reduction of the migrant flow. Having won a quarter of parliamentary seats, the M5S exhibits an intractability sabotaging reform attempts. Matteo Renzi, the young Democratic Party leader, has proven himself as the most active reformer. Without being a heir of the left political culture, in contrast to the Party’s previous leaders, he initiated its shift to the centre, which has, as shown in the article, provided him support among the creative part of managers and the middle class. The research gives a data on the content and focus of the reforms implemented by M. Renzi – the labor law liberalization, fiscal and budget innovations, new electoral law, constitutional reform (the elimination of the Chamber of Deputies’ functions duplication by the Senate, which aimed to impart more of preciseness and mobility to the state mechanism). As demonstrated in the article, Renzi’s coming to power initially gave rise to exaggerated expectations that were quickly replaced by disappointment as far as the reforms resulted barely in a limited youth unemployment decrease and were not able to lead the country out of the economic stagnation. M. Renzi’s actions were constrained by the rigid framework of the EU budgetary policy. The referendum, necessary for the maintenance of a constitutional reform, turned into a voting in favor or against Renzi, and its negative result caused not only reversal of the reform, but also resignation of Renzi’s government, and probably, breakdown of the reformatory line, the danger of populist forces’ coming to power in one of the biggest European countries. 

Keywords: party system, Democratic Party, structural reforms, Matteo Renzi, Populism, Five Stars Movement, labor law, constitutional reform, referendum, pre-term elections, Democratic party disintegration 


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For citation:
Kholodkovskii K. Failure of the Constitutional Reform in Italy. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 41-47.

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