The Italian Constitutional Referendum of 2016: the Birth of the ‘Third Republic’?

Graham Hills 512
Time Slot: 
Monday 10th April 09:30 - 11:00
Panel Chair: 
  • Dr Arianna Giovannini (De Montfort University)
Panel Discussant: 
  • Dr Laura Polverari (University of Strathclyde)
Panel Members: 
  • Dr Daniele Albertazzi (University of Birmingham)
  • Professor James Newell (University of Salford)
  • Dr Michelangelo Vercesi (Leuphana University Lüneburg)
  • Dr Fabio Bordignon (Università di Urbino Carlo Bo (Italy))
  • Awaiting details of this person

‘Anti-politics’ has become a catchphrase to express the growing detachment between people and politics. However, whilst direct democratic means such as, for instance, referendums, could be used by the political class to bring people back into politics, politicians tend to look at these with suspicion, and do very little to improve the direct involvement of citizens – unless being seen to do this occasionally can serve their own political purposes. The ‘Brexit’ referendum in the UK, the recent vote on refugee quotas in Hungary and the referendum on Constitutional reform to be held in Italy in December, all provide recent examples of governments calling out citizens to merely confirm what they have decided to do anyway, and banking on what they perceive to be their own popularity to carry the vote. As we have seen in the UK, however, such initiatives can spectacularly backfire. In other words, when given the opportunity to decide, voters increasingly appear minded to refuse to play the ‘confirmation’ game, and use the opportunity to send a strong message to the government instead.

This panel focuses on the Constitutional referendum in Italy – another initiative that, if the polls are right, might turn out to backfire on the man who has sponsored it: PM Matteo Renzi of the centre-left Partito democratico (PD - Democratic Party). The panel aims to unpack what the vote tells us about anti-political feelings in Italy, and what its impact will be on Matteo Renzi, his party, and the relations between centre-left and centre-right in the country. Papers are also invited to assess the future of Italy’s ‘Third Pole’, i.e. the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S – Five Star Movement), and ask whether Italy has just witnessed the birth of a ‘Third Republic’.