[JURIST] An Italian referendum held on Sunday failed to draw enough votes to shorten the number of currently existing offshore oil and drilling sites for environmental purposes. If the referendum [Reuters report] had successfully achieved a majority vote, drilling sites within 12 miles of the Italian coast would have been unable to renew their drilling licenses. Such a vote would have closed about 44 drilling sites mostly run by the Italian energy company Eni [corporate website], thereby jeopardizing at least 11,000 jobs. The referendum only achieved a 30 percent turnout after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi [BBC profile] called on Italian citizens to abstain from voting for the sake of the country’s economic security. Following the referendum, Renzi praised the people’s abstention and criticized those who backed the costly ballot despite the fact that the referendum was largely supported by his own Democratic Party [party website, in Italian].
Renzi has recently promised political and economic reforms designed to increase stability in Italy, which has had 63 governments [Reuters report] since World War II. Earlier this month the Italian Parliament passed [Reuters report] a constitutional reform promoted by Renzi intended to resolve Italy’s overwhelming political instability by restricting the Senate’s powers. Renzi has promised to resign from his position should the constitutional referendum, being held in October, fail to achieve a successful turnout. Last May the Italian Parliament approved [JURIST report] Renzi’s new electoral rules that provide a majority of electoral seats to a clear winner of an election. He has expressed plans [BBC report] to further transform the Italian system by replacing the Senate with a non-elected body with lesser powers, as a way to provide more checks on legislation that is currently routinely held up.