Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi says he takes full responsibility for the defeat and will resign after his constitutional referendum was rejected.
Addressing the nation live on television from the Palazzo Chigi, Renzi says he intends to fulfil his promise to resign following a “No” result.
“I have lost and I say it out loud,” Renzi said.
He has acknowledged that his government’s time in office ends with his tenure. He intends to hand his resignation to Italian president Sergio Mattarella tomorrow, when the country parliamentary cabinet convenes.
According to local media, economic minister Pier Carlo Padoan and Senate chairman Pietro Grasso are the leading candidates to replace Renzi.
In a tweet following the first exit poll, and the subsequently landslide result, Renzi tweeted: “Thanks anyway, everybody. In a few minutes I will be live from Palazzo Chigi. Long live Italy! PS: I’m coming, I’m coming :)”
Renzi tweets: "Thanks anyway, everybody. In a few minutes I will be live from Palazzo Chigi. Long live Italy! PS: I'm coming, I'm coming ????" pic.twitter.com/L7CPtK1wUF
— Mathieu von Rohr (@mathieuvonrohr) December 4, 2016
Renzi, 41, is leaving after just two-and-a-half years as prime minister.
The result is seen as a rejection of his leadership, and leaves an opening for Beppe Grillo and his increasingly powerful populist Five Star Movement to take office.
“I have lost,” Renzi said. “I believe in democracy. I am not looking the other way.”
Despite his promise to remove suppressive bureaucracy, his reforms were seen to have little impact.
The “No” result could be interpreted as voters rejecting the establishment politics in favour of nationalist populist and anti-immigrant forces, which have grown in western Europe post-Brexit.
Financial markets have fallen in response to Renzi’s pledge to hand in his resignation, with the euro tumbling to as low as 1.0508 against the US dollar, the weakest level seen since March 2015.
Australia’s ASX 200 index is the only major stock market open in the Asian region, and it’s currently trading down 0.5% at 5,146.5.
US S&P 500 futures have also opened weaker, reflective of the risk-off mood of investors. They currently sit at 2,184, down 0.3% for the session.
European equity futures will not resume trade until later in the session, although they too are likely to open weaker.
- Italian referendum exit polls show the ‘No’ vote is well ahead
- The Euro is tumbling as Italian exit polls have ‘no’ with a commanding lead
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