Pro-EU Renzi Suffers Stinging Defeat In Italian Mayoral Elections


In the second and final round of mayoral elections in Italy, candidates backed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi went down in flames in many key cities.

The Financial Times reports Italy’s Mayoral Elections Deal Stinging Blow to Renzi.

In a set of closely watched mayoral races on Sunday, seen as a barometer of national support for Mr Renzi and his reformist agenda, the former mayor of Florence’s centre-left PD party won in Bologna and Milan but lost in Rome, Turin, Naples and Trieste.

The most striking contests were in the Italian capital and Turin where two young women — Ms Raggi, a 37-year-old lawyer, and Chiara Appendino, a 31-year old business graduate — won landslide victories for the populist Five Star Movement. Naples was won by an independent and Trieste by a centre-right candidate.

According to a poll released overnight by La7 TV, if general elections were held today, PD would secure 31.3 per cent of the vote in the first round, Five Star would rank second with 30.9 per cent and a joint centre-right candidate would get 28.3 per cent.

“This is not a protest vote but a vote for change,” Mr Renzi said in a news conference late on Monday afternoon. The victory for the Five Star Movement in Rome and Turin was “very clear”, he added. But appealing for “wisdom and good sense”, the premier said he did not consider it an opportune moment for the government to change direction.


  • Bologna – PD – Democratic Party
  • Milan – PD – Democratic Party
  • Rome – M5S – 5 Star Movement
  • Turin – M5S – 5 Star Movement
  • Naples – Independent
  • Trieste – Center Right

“This is not a protest vote but a vote for change,” said Prime Minister Renzi, who added “wisdom and good sense” show it’s not an opportune moment for change.

Referendum 2016

Wikipedia explains the Italian Constitutional Referendum, 2016

A constitutional referendum will be held in Italy probably no later than October 2016. Voters will be asked whether they approve of amending the Italian Constitution to transform the Senate of the Republic into a “Senate of Regions” composed of 100 senators mainly made up of regional councillors and mayors.

The constitutional bill, proposed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his centre-left Democratic Party in 2014, was approved by an absolute majority of the MPs in both houses of the Italian Parliament, falling short of the qualified majority of two-thirds required for it to be immediately enacted; accordingly, under article 138 of the Constitution, a referendum is required for the reform to become law.

The Italian Parliament is described as a perfectly symmetric bicameral legislature, in that it has a lower house (the Chamber of Deputies) and an upper house (the Senate of the Republic) with the following characteristics:

  • The two houses are elected simultaneously and for the same five-year term.
  • They (mostly) share the same electorate, and have until now had similar electoral laws.
  • The Government must have each house’s confidence, and is responsible to both of them.
  • All legislation must be passed in the same text by both houses: whenever a bill is amended by either house, it must be sent to the other one in a potentially endless process known as the navetta parlamentare (parliamentary shuttle).

Although the degree of differentiation between the powers of bicameral legislatures varies a lot, no other country in the world has a perfectly symmetric parliament as described above.

This system was designed in 1946 and 1947 in an effort to ensure that Italy would stay a consociational democracy, so as to make it impossible for Soviet-aligned parties like the Communist Party and the Socialist Party to seize power, while at the same time forcing the Christian Democracy (the largest party in Italy from 1946 to 1993) to collaborate with smaller political forces in order for it to lead the government.

Legislation Background

The Wall Street Journal reports Italian Parliament Passes Bill to Overhaul Senate.

The reform bill was approved 361-7 in an almost half-empty chamber of 630 seats. Opposition parties including the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement and the anti-immigration Northern League, left in protest and didn’t participate in the voting.

The new constitutional architecture is tied to another of Mr. Renzi’s overhauls, the new electoral system that introduces a two-round voting system for the lower house. Its main purpose is also to give elected governments more stability and the chance to survive a full five-year term, as has rarely happened in Italy’s modern history.

New Electoral System

Digging still deeper into the “new electoral system” called Italicum, we see …

The new bill would automatically assign 340 of the 630 seats in the lower house to the party that wins at least 40% of the vote in general elections. If no party reaches that threshold, a runoff would be held between the top two finishers.

The remaining seats are divided proportionally among the other parties.

“The reform was clearly tailored on Mr. Renzi and his Democratic Party, which is currently the largest political force in Italy,” said Gino Scaccia, professor of constitutional law at Rome’s LUISS University. “It gives the main party a solid control of parliament and also strengthens the role of the government.”

40% the “New Majority”

If it comes to a runoff, the last poll shows 31.3% support for PD and 30.9% for the Five Star Movement. Stand alone, the Five Star Movement is within reach of 40% by itself if anger builds.

This reform can easily backfire on Renzi.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock