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Italy’s Renzi announces resignation

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said his goodbyes today after a ruinous referendum defeat that was cheered by populist leaders and sent shockwaves rippling around Europe.

“My experience of government finishes here,” said a downcast Renzi after accepting a defeat of almost 60-40 percent over his constitutional reform bid.

The result, coming on the coattails of Brexit and Donald Trump’s US election win, has plunged Italy into a period of political uncertainty and cast a shadow over the short- and long-term future of the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

After a first meeting with President Sergio Mattarella to discuss his departure, Renzi posted a link on his Facebook page defending his record since he came to power in February 2014.

“1,000 difficult but wonderful days. Thanks to everyone. Viva l’Italia,” he wrote.

Renzi, 41, was expected to formally tender his resignation to Mattarella after a final cabinet meeting set for 6.30 pm (1730 GMT).

Mattarella will then be charged with brokering the appointment of a new government or, if he is unable to do that, ordering early elections.

Initial market reaction was subdued. The euro briefly sank to a 20-month low as investors fretted that political instability could scupper efforts to resolve a long-running banking crisis, and over the possibility of an election that could see anti-EU parties challenge for power. 

Italy’s FTSE MIB stock index fell 2.0 per cent at the opening before clawing back some ground, underperforming other European markets.
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