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While the market overcame its initial scare following yesterday's counter-establishment Italian referendum vote, and European stocks proceeded to not only make up all losses, but soar in the overnight session by the most since Trump's presidential victory, what happens next in Italy is largely unknown. What follows are Goldman's snap thoughts on the Italian next steps.
First, a quick recap of what has happened in yesterday's referendum in which many more Italians than expected turned up to reject the proposed reforms, leading PM Renzi to announce his resignation later today. The odds of a general election have risen from one-in-five to one-in four, according to Goldman. Despite yesterday's outcome, Renzi remains the most popular politician on the centre-left. More importantly, the outcome of the vote lowers the chances of a market-driven solution for the ailing Italian banks, and in turn increases the likelihood of a State-led restructuring Goldman notes
Here are the details:
In a national confirmative referendum held yesterday, Italian voters rejected a Constitutional reform bill sponsored by the coalition government of Mr Renzi and passed by Parliament in April. The referendum was called because the bill had failed to receive the quorum of 2/3 of MPs in its final reading.
The outcome of the referendum was in line with opinion polls in the run-up to the vote. These had been suggesting that the ‘Vote No’ side would win by some distance. Two elements are new, however (all numbers based on quasi-final vote count):
At 59.1%, the percentage of voters rejecting the reform bill was 5 percentage points higher than projected by opinion polls going into the referendum (55%). This outcome represents a much starker victory for the ‘Vote No’ camp than generally envisaged. Goldman assumed that the odds favoured a ‘Vote No’ win only marginally (55%), and that the gap between the two sides would be small, within 10 percentage points rather than the realised 20.
The voter turnout was 10 percentage points higher than projected by pollsters (65.5% vs. 55%), with close to 33 million people casting their vote (19.4 million voted ‘No’ and 13.4 million ‘Yes’). By comparison, the turnout in the UK Brexit vote was 72.2% (corresponding to 33.6 million people) while in the Italian 2006 referendum on Constitutional reforms, which also saw the amendments being rejected, the turnout was 52.3%.
A first analysis of the vote breakdown suggests that the electorate largely acted on political priors. Specifically:
- In polling districts where opposition right-wing parties and the 5 Star Movement gathered higher consensus back in 2013 (Southern Italy, alongside some areas in the North), the ‘Vote No’ camp has achieved its best results, reaching as much as 70% of the vote share.
- In the South, the ‘No’ vote outnumbered the ‘Yes’ by a remarkably ample margin (more than 40%) in Sicily and Sardinia, where the 5 Star Movement managed to outperform the Democratic Party in the 2013 general election.
- The constitutional reform has been largely rejected also in the North-East of the country, a stronghold of the Euro-sceptical Northern League. The 'Vote No' camp, for instance, obtained 62% of the vote in Veneto, where Lega won roughly one-third of opposition votes in the 2013 general election.
- Conversely, the regions where the Democratic Party performed better at the 2013 elections – such as Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, where it won more than 40% of votes – were those experiencing a victory of the 'Vote Yes’ camp.
- The relationship between the share of youth unemployment by polling region and No share of the vote is strikingly positive (see Exhibit 2). This is a result that will carry a large weight in the next general elections, as well as those in other European countries. The general impression here is that the youth and the disadvantaged are rebelling against the establishment, even when its policies bring economic benefits, albeit unequally distributed (incidentally, the protests against the ECB policies of low rates and QE go in the same direction).
Exhibit 1: The percentage of voters rejecting the reform bill was 5% higher than projected by opinion polls...MORE