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POLITICS

Italy’s Renzi admits referendum mistakes

Italy's former prime minister Matteo Renzi said on Sunday he made a mistake by "politicizing" a referendum on constitutional reform that saw him bundled out of office last week.

Italy's Renzi admits referendum mistakes
Renzi at new PM Paolo Gentiloni's swearing in ceremony. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Renzi resigned after after Italians overwhelmingly rejected a package of reforms in a December 4th ballot that became a vote on his own record.

“We lost, we ultra-lost,” the 41-year-old Renzi told lawmakers from his centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

READ ALSO: The winners and losers of Italy's referendum

“I made the mistake of politicizing the referendum: I didn't see it happening and I was wrong.”

“We lost among young people, particularly the 30 to 40 year olds. We lost at home and that hurts.”

Renzi's replacement as prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, had his new government endorsed on Wednesday and hopes to guide Italy to elections in early 2018, but there are suggestions polls could come up to a year early.

READ MORE: Six questions and answers after the Italian referendum

Six questions (and answers) after the Italian referendum

Photo: AFP

 

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

An Italian centre-left election pact broke down on Sunday just days after it was formed, leaving the path to power clear for the hard-right coalition.

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

The alliance between Italian centre-left parties was left in disarray on Sunday night, potentially meaning a landslide victory for the hard-right coalition at early general elections in September.

The leader of the centrist Azione party withdrew support for the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) just five days after the two joined forces, saying it could not work with left-wingers brought in to boost the alliance.

Carlo Calenda, leader of Azione, withdrew his support on Sunday after PD made another pact with smaller left-wing parties including the radical Sinistra Italiana, and new green party Europa Verde.

“You cannot explain (to voters) that to defend the constitution you make a pact with people you know you will never govern with,” Calenda told newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The news was greeted with jubilation by hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini, who tweeted: “On the left chaos and everyone against everyone!”

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neofascist Brothers of Italy party (FdI) mocked a “new twist in the soap opera of the centre-left.”

READ ALSO: Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

Analyists predict the centre-left split could hand the right-wing bloc a landslide victory at the election on September 25th, with Meloni tipped to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni has a strong alliance with Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Letta is struggling to bring together the disparate  progressive parties.

The PD is neck and neck with Brothers of Italy in the latest opinion polls, but even in partnership with Azione, the group most recently polled at 33.6 percent, compared with 46.4 percent for the right.

Political commentators said the only hope PD has now of posing a credible threat to the right-wing alliance would be by partnering with the Five Star Movement.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

However, Letta has repeatedly said this is out of the question, as he blames M5S for triggering the political crisis that brought down Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government.

“Either PD eats its hat and seeks alliance with M5S to defeat the right-wing coalition, or it’s hard to see how the right can possibly lose the forthcoming election,” Dr Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey in England, tweeted on Sunday.

Early elections were called after Draghi resigned in late July. His government currently remains in place in a caretaker role.

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