“I lost,” said Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “My government’s term ends here. I believe that to change this political system in which the leaders are always the same and we exchange roles but not the country, you cannot pretend that everyone sticks to their own habits even more than their own seats.”
Shortly after midnight, Renzi stood in front of the cameras at the Chigi Palace and presented his resignation as prime minister on live TV. This afternoon, he will visit the president to formalize it, in respect of the Italian Constitution that voters would not allow him to change for the worse. Renzi became emotional when he thanked his wife Agnese and their children. Then he sent “a strong, affectionate hug” to his “friends on the Yes front.”
The story of the Renzi government ends here, buried by an avalanche of No votes in a referendum the prime minister tied to his tenure. In the latest results, 59 percent voted No, and 41 percent voted Yes.
It was a resounding defeat that was announced hours earlier as exit polls revealed a startling margin for No. More than one hour before the closing of the polls, in theory, the exit polls should still be under embargo. But the news was sensational and couldn’t be held back from the websites and the TV channels about to begin their marathon coverage.