A “yes” vote in the Italian referendum on December 4 will reinforce Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, bolstering his leadership in the face of rising populism throughout Europe and enabling his efforts to encourage economic growth, said Andrea Montanino, director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program, in a Facebook live discussion on December 1.

Montanino, a former officer in the Italian ministry of finance, joined Ole Moehr, a program assistant with the Global Business and Economics Program, to consider the repercussions of Italy’s upcoming referendum.

Montanino described how the constitutional changes proposed in the referendum will simplify the Italian legislative process and clarify the processes of government. While the success of the referendum has the potential to provide a moment of stability for Europe, Montanino said, a “no” vote can reduce confidence in Italy, negatively affecting the banking system as well as foreign direct investment in the country.

A “yes” will not only solidify Renzi’s leadership, according to Moehr, but also provide German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a source of positive momentum such that she might “work with Renzi to get Europe back to growth.” Merkel has announced she will run for a fourth term as chancellor. However, Renzi has said he will resign if the referendum is rejected. Without Renzi working toward reform and economic growth, “Europe will miss a voice that can give really a new direction,” said Montanino. Ultimately, he predicted that “yes” will prevail. 

Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council. 

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