- Title: Italy's maverick 5-Star Movement hopes for "No" victory in December referendum
- Date: 30th November 2016
- Summary: ROME, ITALY (NOVEMBER 26, 2016) (REUTERS) SUPPORTERS OF ITALY'S 5-STAR MOVEMENT GATHERING FOR RALLY IN SQUARE SUPPORTERS HOLDING UP LETTERS SPELLING OUT (Italian) "I SAY NO" AND CHANTING (Italian) "I say no" DOG IN BACKPACK WITH STICKER READING (Italian) "I say no" LEADER OF 5-STAR MOVEMENT, BEPPE GRILLO, HOLDING HEART-SHAPED BALLOON, SURROUNDED BY MEDIA AND SUPPORTERS AS HE ARRIVES FOR RALLY 5-STAR MOVEMENTS SUPPORTERS MARCHING THROUGH ROME, CHANTING (Italian) "Don't touch the constitution" GRILLO MARCHING GRILLO AND SUPPORTERS MARCHING GRILLO MARCHING NEXT TO 5-STAR MOVEMENT POLITICIAN AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE LOWER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT, LUIGI DI MAIO ROME, ITALY (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) FIVE-STAR MOVEMENT POLITICIAN AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE LOWER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT, LUIGI DI MAIO, SAYING "Italy is called to vote in the referendum on the constitutional reform on December 4. We are very concerned that if the 'Yes' vote wins, the level of corruption will increase. We will have a Senate which the Italian people will no longer be able to elect and which will be formed of regional councillors and mayors, who will be provided parliamentary immunity which will also safeguard them against the malpractices of the past years' of governance by local authorities."
- Embargoed: 15th December 2016 08:57
- Keywords: Italy referendum Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vote 5-Star Movement Beppe Grillo
- Location: ROME AND PESCARA, ITALY
- City: ROME AND PESCARA, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Reuters ID: LVA0015AMZ1HJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Italy's main opposition party, the 5-Star Movement, is calling for supporters to vote "No" in the December 4 referendum, saying Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's reforms would bring about chaos in Italy.
Renzi says his plan to reduce the role of the Senate and centralize power will simplify decision making, but the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement says it will have exactly the opposite effect.
The maverick group stormed onto the national political scene in 2013 when it won more than 25 percent of the national vote, coming in a close second to Renzi's ruling Democratic Party (PD).
Beppe Grillo, the irreverent comic, co-founded the movement whose appeal is based on a drive against the corruption that has tainted Italy's politics for decades.
Grillo was on hand on the final day of campaigning on Saturday (November 26) to lead a march through the streets of Rome in support of the 'No' vote.
On Grillo's side was Luigi Di Maio, a 30-year-old parliamentarian widely expected to be 5-Star's candidate for prime minister at the next election due in 2018.
"Italy is called to vote in the referendum on the constitutional reform on December 4. We are very concerned that if the 'Yes' vote wins, the level of corruption will increase. We will have a Senate which the Italian people will no longer be able to elect and which will be formed of regional councillors and mayors, who will be provided parliamentary immunity which will also safeguard them against the malpractices of the past years' of governance by local authorities," said Di Maio, who prior to the march toured Europe to make sure Renzi would not be saved by the votes of Italians abroad.
Opinion polls now predict Renzi's defeat, in what would be the third big anti-establishment revolt by voters this year in a major Western country, following Britain's unexpected vote to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of Donald Trump.
Giovanni Orsina, professor of contemporary history at Rome's Luiss University, said the 5-Star Movement and the eurosceptic, anti-immigrant Northern League would be the ones to benefit from Renzi's defeat.
"This means that if the 'No' wins this is going to be a victory of the 5-Star Movement and to a lesser extent of the League. To a lesser extent because the League is a weaker movement. 5-Star is about 30 percent in the polls, the League about 13-14. But the anti-establishment, eurosceptical or anti-European forces will certainly be the major beneficiaries of a 'No' victory," said Orsina.
The 5-Star Movement says it has the support of the Italian electorate and its parliamentarians say it is time Italy goes to the polls.
In June this year, 5-Star representative Virginia Raggi became the mayor of Rome after winning a landslide victory. Her election to the high-profile post was meant to show the movement was ready to govern.
"We want a government that has been elected, we need to find a way for the Italian people to elect their own government. We will preserve the constitution, we will ensure it will not be destroyed by this wretched reform and then we'll go to elections to let the people vote in the government they want," member of the lower house of parliament, Carla Ruocco, said.
The 5-Star Movement was the most voted party in Italy at the last national election in 2013, but after the ballots were counted from Italians living abroad it was overtaken by Renzi's PD, allowing it to lead a new government.
"We have grown up with Berlusconi, 20 years of Berlusconi. I voted the Democratic Party in the last elections, I voted the Democratic Party thinking 'wow, now, after 20 years of Berlusconi it's finally their turn'. But Renzi is Berlusconi 2.0 so for me the 5-Star Movement is the only solution now, I don't see other options," said Giulia Codispoti, attending the 5-Star Movement rally in Rome.
Members of PD have said they could seek early elections in 2017 if the 'Yes' vote failed to win in the referendum. Current parliamentary term ends in February 2018. It is possible President Sergio Mattarella could ask Renzi to stay on until this date even if he hands in his resignation.
"The 5-Star Movement will ask the president to appoint them to form a government because it will never get 51 percent of the popular vote. There is too much abstention, there is a part of the electorate that does not go to vote, that could really make a difference. Mattarella will have to appoint the 5-Star Movement because it is the number one political force in Italy so he will not be able to say no," 5-Star Movement supporter, Gabriele Tenna said.
Even the 5-Star Movement's supporters recognise the challenges facing those taking charge of the country.
"It is difficult, it's very difficult because they will find a country, which just like Rome is tainted with disasters. There is so much to do, so much to create from scratch. They will need to prepare well because they lack experience. But then, look at where that those with experience have taken the country!" said Stefania Pasquarelli.
But taking to the stage just outside Rome's ancient Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth), Grillo oozed confidence.
"We will endure, we will go forward and we will bring home an extraordinary result because the world is changing. We have a great, great opportunity and great strength," he said, promising change.
"Crisis, crisis, crisis, it's been ten years. A crisis can last a year, two years, three years. If it's been ten years, it's no longer a crisis, it is a change of the world, do you not get it? We are in the midst of it and we, too are starting to change the world," Grillo said.
Opinion polls cannot be legally published in the final two weeks of campaigning, but the last 40 surveys released before the Nov. 18 cut-off showed the 'No' camp ahead by up to 11 percentage points.
A source in Renzi's Democratic Party (PD) said last Friday (November 25) that private polls suggested this gap had closed to five points with a quarter of voters still undecided, meaning victory was still possible.
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