Italians protest against government-proposed reforms

Italian Banks Weigh on European Stock Markets

ROME A "No" vote in Sunday's referendum on constitutional reform would be a slap in the face to Europe, said the head of the rightist Northern League, pledging to pull Italy from the euro if he wins the next national elections. Brussels also wants a "yes" vote.

According to sources things are only about to get worse with numerous European nations having their main elections next year. The country's banking system is fragmented, with more branches than restaurants dotted across its high streets.

There are no comments on this feature at present.

Mr Berlusconi, who surprised many by bouncing back into active political life last weekend to call for a No vote, told RAI TV that, if the referendum was passed, a subsequent election victory for Mr Renzi would leave him in charge of both the lower and upper chambers of parliament as well as the constitutional court.

The referendum will ask voters whether or not they agree with reforms that would centralise the government and remove much of the power of the senate, reports Kurier.

Of more immediate concern for financial markets is the future for Italian banks.

The fear is that a political backlash could sweep the deeply eurosceptic Five Star Movement into power, raising doubts about whether Italy could itself question its continued membership of the eurozone.

The Five Star Movement, which has been campaigning to defeat the referendum, is led by Beppe Grillo, an actual comedian. However, if the reforms are passed it could signal a stronger desire by European citizens to make the European project work and Italy's economic recovery may finally take hold. Italians are set to vote on the referendum on December 4th. While a domestic issue, if the reforms are rejected, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has hinted or outright said that he will resign, adding fresh uncertainty to the long-term stability of the Euro-Zone.

So what will happen if there is a no vote?

It is unclear whether or not Renzi will stand down, as he has repeatedly changed his stance in the lead up to the referendum, seemingly finding it impossible to decide what to do after the vote.

"The mistake was made at the beginning of the year by the prime minister by thinking that he could actually win this referendum and he made it into a sort of personal thing - it's become like a referendum on his government and his policies, and that was a big mistake".

We have already seen markets roiled this year the Brexit vote in Britain, the election of Donald Trump and the battle (now settled) for the conservative candidate for the French Presidency.

The European Central Bank is ready to temporarily increase purchases of Italian government bonds.

The fear for investors is that Mr Renzi's resignation would see private investors failing to recapitalise lenders, and in turn leading to fears they will need to be put under a new European Union "resolution" mechanism that would force losses on all creditors, including millions of ordinary Italians.

Speaking to La Repubblica TV yesterday, Mr Renzi adopted a conciliatory tone which, in itself, acknowledged the sometimes surprising level of vitriol generated by a campaign that has dominated the autumn.

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