The world’s leading financial media has recently sharply turned their attention to the critical consequences of Italy’s constitutional referendum on 4 December. What stirs these experts is the significance of the vote for the country’s notoriously precarious banking system and the effect of a rejection — the no vote is 5-7 points ahead in the polls — for political stability in Europe.
Prime Minister Renzi wants to transform the elective Italian Senate into an apparatus of the ruling party or the government, composed of 100 senators, selectively picked from Mayors and councillors from the regions. They would be both unaccountable and enjoy the immunity of parliamentary deputies. Thanks to Renzi’s proposed new electoral law, the majority of those elected to the Chamber of Deputies will be nominees of the respective political party.
In addition, recourse to the referendum will become more difficult, as will laws via popular initiative. But the icing on the cake will be the enormous prize bestowed on the party receiving most votes. If no one gets a 40%+ vote, then in the run-off between the two top contenders, the winner will get many more deputies.
The precedent is Mussolini’s law that assigned to the list that had got 25% of the votes two-thirds of all the seats in the Chamber of Deputies, from which he proceeded to construct his totalitarian regime. Renzi’s real object here is a fundamental reordering of the country’s economic, political and social fabric, pivoted critically on a historic subjection and domestication of the working-class movement. But notwithstanding the inevitable support from those among the country’s most privileged and powerful, the price he is now paying for the unending austerity is an uncontainable anger and hatred that most probably will see his defeat.
The growing and palpable fear among the bourgeoisie is mounting instability and the possibility of an election if Renzi fails. Already Berlusconi — who when Renzi assumed office privately concurred with the decision to bulwark executive power — has declared his support for the no vote, aiming to rebuild his split forces with Salvini’s Lega Nord to outface the real possibility of Grillo’s Five Star outfit emerging as the real contender for political power. However Salvini is showing his independence and has been hosting Le Pen, no doubt eagerly fueling the burgeoning fanstasies of “doing a Trump”.
Tragically the liberal and would-be radical forces are nowhere likely to play any significant role as a coherent mobilising force of attraction against the miasma of racist, xenophobic poison that will be unleashed if Renzi is defeated.