Youth unemployment played a big role in Renzi’s defeat

Employment and Social Affairs

The resignation of Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi have confirmed that, for one reason or another, Italy’s constitutional referendum on 4th december was not just  a matter confidential for technical issues and law experts but a political vote on the same head of the government. The sound political consequence, leaving Italy without a leading figure after almost tree year of government, highlight that besides a referendum on constitution it was a referendum on the Italian centrist coalition cabinet. It was a coalition formed in order to give basic reforms to a country deeply affected by many years of economic crisis; beside constitutional and electoral reform it was formed to give strong answer to citizens needs. But here came the difficulties that gave space to those who are not in power and can easily judge. Few can dispute that Italian economy has gone nowhere for 15 years and unemployment is still high at around 11,5 per cent: for this reason it is highly probable that a big part of Italian “No” was due to an economic driven sentiment of disaffection. Despite Jobs Act was welcomed in the private sector – at least in part – public sector pay and privileges have been left largely untouched, although that was an aim envisaged in constitutional reform proposal. Renzi was thus accused of failing to reboot the country’s flagging economy and to tackle the jobless rate, with a slight dip in the youth unemployment rate to 36.4 percent. Only three regions backed Renzi’s proposal of constitution reform: Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna in central Italy, and Trentino-Alto Adige in the north. In Sicily, Sardinia and Campania which voted against the changes, the divide between the camps was in some cases at around 44 percentage points. And young people are those who voted “No” in the largest part: based on exit polls, according to the different institutes, under 34 italians voted against the reform between 69% and 81% in regions with more evident economic problems. The “Yes” won only among those over 55. According to surveys carried out by Quorum for SkyTg24, the content of the reform was crucial in the decision among supporters of “Yes” for 71%; going instead to analyze the “social distribution”, No triumphed among young people (81%) and in the 35-54 group (67%), while the Yes prevailed with 53% among citizens over 55. Furthermore, in the 100 municipalities with most unemployed the No won with 65.8%, while in the 100 less unemployed Yes won 59%. Off course that is just a part of the matter at stake but probably a decisive one. All this highlights that 4th december vote in Italy could be widely considered a voice of protest, driven by social exclusion and frustration by young generations that, for the first time in recent history, can not have the same or better living conditions of their parents.

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