Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has tendered his resignation as expected after heavily losing a constitutional referendum, yesterday. In Austria, in the race for the ceremonial position of President, the leftist Green Party candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, easily disposed of his far right wing opponent, thus calming immediate fears of a far right head of state in the European Union(EU).
The defeat of Renzi's constitutional reform, came as no surprise in Italy given this year's climate of failed referendums in the United Kingdom(UK), Colombia and a shocking upset in the Presidential Election in the United States(US).
Renzi gambled that Italians would do away with many years of having a bicameral legislature, would accept an easier path to enacting laws by eliminating or weakening the country's senate, so as to accord easier governance in order to deal with an impending banking and financial crisis. He was wrong. His measure was defeated by a 60/40 percentage split. Italy's president may ask him to stay in office for a transitional period, or he may be replaced immediate, or elections may be called to fill the office. Whatever happens, anti-EU parties in Italy have been strengthened with Renzi's lost.
Austria's new president-elect is the leftist Green Party candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, who defeated the far right contender, Norbert Hofer, for a second time yesterday. Van der Bellen beat Hofer in an election last May by 30,000 votes, but that decision was vacated by the Austrian courts. The margin of victory increased to 300,000 votes yesterday as Austrians decisively rejected a far right state.
Yet, Europe's concerns and issues are far from being over as a crisis still looms in Italy, as right wing parties focus on other parliamentary elections in Austria and with upcoming votes in 2017 in France, Germany and the Netherlands.