To summarize, this is what has happened so yet another major blow to the European political status quo:
- Italy PM Renzi lost by a huge margin, with the latest estimate somewhere around 59% voting “No” to Renzi’s proposed constitutional referendum.
- In a speech moments after the results were announced, Renzi confirmed he would hand in his resignation tomorrow, adding he isn’t available to lead a caretaker government in a blow to many sellside forecasters he would do just that
- As Bloomberg notes, the scale of the loss and how quickly it happened cast a huge shadow on the fate of the continent headed into 2017.
- Italy’s opposition parties, from Grillo’s Five Star Movement to Calvini’s “Northern League” to Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, seem to be aiming for early elections as soon as possible, “after making a few tweaks to the current electoral law.” Grillo said this can be done in “one week.”
- The blow out result of the referendum is a confirmation that anti-euro populists are ascendent in Europe. Expect more long nights in the months to come, especially in France and the Netherlands which are the two next big potential dominoes to fall.
- What’s next? According to Bloomberg, “Italy is in for a period of high instability. The prospect of a prolonged, bitter electoral campaign won’t do any good to the country’s already anemic recovery. Not to mention its battered banks who may have to ask for public aid.”
- The EURUSD dropped to the lowest level since March 2015, sliding uner 1.05 briefly, but has since recovered some of its initial losses:
“The experience of my government ends here,” Renzi said in a televised address to the nation after early voting results suggested his ‘Yes’ camp may have lost the referendum by as much as 20 points.
Renzexit first, Quitaly next?
Renzi said he took full responsibility for the “extraordinarily clear” defeat and that on Monday afternoon he would convene his cabinet and then hand in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.
Meanwhile, not wasting any time, the man who would likely win an election if one were held today, Five Star founder Beppe Grillo, said in a blog post that Italians need elections as soon as possible, adding that the election law for the lower house can be the current one, even though the movement has “always criticized it” and says a new election law for the Senate, with tweaks to make it more governable, can be done in one week.
At the same time, Italy’s Salvini, leader of the “Northern League”, smelling blood and an opportunity to pounce, said he is ready for elections with any Law, according to ANSA.
The result of today’s events has hit the EURUSD first and foremost:
“Expect volatility premiums to rise and the euro to trade below $1.05 against the dollar, potentially testing last year’s low of $1.0460 in a ‘no’ vote scenario,” Petr Krpata of ING Groep said before the referendum. “While the market is positioning for the risk of ‘no’ vote outcome, a knee-jerk reaction is still likely to be a lower euro” as it would “underline the upcoming risk” of other elections in Europe.
After the referendum, Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist for Mizuho said the EURUSD may fall to 1.02 in January-March period as European elections make investors wary. First reaction to Renzi resigning is EUR selling, JPY buying, but more important event is parliament dissolution and general election in Italy which may not occur until 2017. Daisuke says elections in Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy next year keep euro pressured. He also notes that Italy isn’t a factor-snapping trend of Trump rally and won’t be trigger for all-out JPY buying as market sentiment is somewhere between risk-on and risk-off.
As Bloomberg’s Flavie Krause-Jackson put it, “tonight’s stunning defeat of Renzi by a much larger margin that expected throws into sharp relief the challenges that lie ahead for European centrist leaders. At this point it’s almost impossible to discount even more shocks. We expected a close race, what we got was a very clear message that people will not tolerate the status quo and are willing to burn the house down regardless of their interests. And to be clear, the political instability that will follow will benefit very few.”
And sure enough, as noted above, Italy’s opposition parties quickly called for early elections moments after Renzi said he was resigning: “Sovereignty is with the people, from now on we will start applying our Constitution. Let’s go immediately to the polls!” the founder of Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, wrote in a tweet as official results started coming in.
The leader of Italy’s anti-euro Northern League, Matteo Salvini, also called for immediate elections. “We need to vote as soon as possible,” Mr. Salvini said in a press conference, asking to bring forward the next general elections, which would be slated for the spring of 2018. Both the 5-Star and the Northern League will try to capitalize on Mr. Renzi’s sound defeat in the referendum, which saw the “No” prevailing with almost 60% of votes, according to partial data.
According to the latest opinion polls, the 5-Star Movement is neck-and-neck with Mr. Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party at around 30% and could aim at heading the next government, if Italian president Sergio Mattarella decides to accept Mr. Renzi’s resignation.
* * *
The rejection of Renzi’s reform means Italy’s government bonds, which have been the euro zone’s worst performers in the past six months, may drop Monday. The bond market opens at 8 a.m. Rome time (2am ET). The yield premium demanded by investors for owning the nation’s 10-year bonds instead of benchmark German bunds surged on Nov. 28 to the most since June 2015, before rebounding last week as Italian stocks also gained.
The nation’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index of shares, which start trading at 9 a.m. in Rome (3amET), has dropped about 20% this year, and may extend its decline on Monday.
So what happens next?We leave it to Doug Casey to sum it all up succinctly:
December 4 referendum fails >> M5S comes to power >> Italians vote to leave the euro currency >> European Union collapses
Here is The Wall Street Journal to explain in more detail what happens next…
New Renzi Government:
Italian President Sergio Mattarella could ask Mr. Renzi to reshuffle his cabinet and form a new government. However, Mr. Renzi has said in recent days that he is unlikely to accept such an option, given that he would be in a much-weakened position following the vote.
A Caretaker Administration:
Mr. Mattarella could ask someone else to lead a new government with a limited mandate to oversee the drafting of a new electoral law and pass the 2017 budget. One candidate is Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, who could help soothe markets that have been nervous about political instability following a no vote. Others include Pietro Grasso, speaker of Italy’s Senate, and Dario Franceschini, the current culture minister.
Major political parties are pushing to change an electoral law passed last year that would give extra seats in Parliament to any party winning 40% or more of the vote. That measure was intended to make for more stable governments. Establishment politicians now worry that it could help the populist 5 Star Movement gain power and want to rewrite the rules before any new national election.
* * *
Update #6: Renzi’s Speech:
- RENZI CONCEDES REFERENDUM DEFEAT, SAYING PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN
- ITALY PM RENZI SAYS I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR DEFEAT
- RENZI: “NO” LEADERS NOW HAVE GREAT RESPONSIBILITIES
- RENZI: WE HAVE FAILED IN CONVINCING CITIZENS, WE WANTED TO WIN
- RENZI SAYS HE WILL OFFER HIS RESIGNATION TO PRESIDENT
- RENZI: MY GOVERNMENT ENDS HERE
* * *
Update #5: Renzi just tweeted to his 2.77 million followers: “Thanks to all of you anyway. In a few minutes I will be speaking to you directly from Palazzo Chigi. Long live Italy! PS Am coming, am coming….”
Grazie a tutti, comunque. Tra qualche minuto sarò in diretta da Palazzo Chigi. Viva l’Italia!
Ps Arrivo, arrivo????
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) December 4, 2016
* * *Update #4: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is likely to meet President Sergio Mattarella early Monday, as exit polls show he’s suffered a heavy defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform, according to a government official who asked not to be named. Renzi has pledged to resign if his plans to overhaul the constitution are rejected by voters.
* * *