Shortly after the final Brexit result was released, first Netherlands and then France quickly warned they too would proceed with their own referenda. They are not alone: moments later the head of Italy’s Northern League Said “Now it’s our turn’ After U.K.
As Dow Jones reports, Italy’s anti-immigrant and euroskeptic Northern League will start a petition calling for a law that allows a referendum on whether the country wants to exit the European Union, its leader said on Friday. In a news conference following the announcement of the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU, Northern League’s head Matteo Salvini said that it was time to give Italians a vote on their EU membership, as the citizens of Britain have just done.
“This vote was a slap in the face for all those who say that Europe is their own business and Italians don’t have to meddle with that,” Mr. Salvini said.
The Northern League launched a campaign against the euro in 2014, but it has been since overshadowed by the anti-immigrant campaigns on which it has built up its electoral support.
Northern League is not alone: recall that earlier this week, the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, emboldened by dramatic victories in Italy’s recent mayoral elections in which Virginia Raggi, a 37-year old lawyer, was elected Rome’s first female mayor by winning a stunning 67% of the vote in the second round, also revived plans for a referendum on leaving the euro.
The movement launched a campaign for a referendum on the euro in 2015 and collected more than 100,000 signatures calling for such a vote.
Even so, the campaign may be moot: the Italian constitution, however, does not allow the cancellation of international agreements through a referendum.
However, even a purely symbolic vote to exit the EU or eurozone would put pressure on the Italian government, led by Matteo Renzi. He has consistently made a pro-European stance.
It will be interesting if anti-European sentiment is as prevalent in Italy as it is in the UK – leaving the euro doesn’t seem a popular option among Italians. According to a poll conducted by pollster SWG in March, 61% of Italians support remaining in the euro area and acknowledge the benefits of being part of it.