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Italian PM Matteo Renzi to Resign After Referendum Defeat

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks during the last rally for a "Yes" vote in the upcoming referendum about constitutional reform, in Florence, Italy, December 2, 2016.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi conceded defeat Sunday and pledged to resign after Italian voters rejected his proposed reforms to the country’s constitution, the latest in a populist wave that has sent shockwaves through the West in the past six months, and ushering in a period of uncertainty to the Eurozone’s third largest economy. Nearly 60 percent of Italians voted against the constitutional changes.

“The experience of my government ends here,” Renzi said at his residence, the Palazzo Chigi, just after midnight in Rome. Meanwhile, populist politicians across Europe cheered the outcome, including the U.K.’s Nigel Farage and France’s Marine Le Pen. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Italian anti-immigration Northern League party and one of the most aggressive “no” campaigners, took to Twitter to celebrate his side’s victory and align himself with Le Pen, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The proposed overhaul would have slashed the size and powers of the Italian senate, and centralized regional powers at the federal level. Renzi and his backers said the move would have streamlined the legislative process in Italy, a country notorious for political corruption, instability, and inefficiency.

—Andrew Desiderio