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Mercoledì 24 Gennaio 2018 | 12:59

Rome

Renzi wagers legacy on reform referendum

Italy no longer stagnating but growing says PM

Renzi wagers legacy on reform referendum

Rome, December 29 - Premier Matteo Renzi said at a year-end press conference Tuesday that his government is planning to call a referendum on its Constitutional reform law in October 2016. Changes to the Constitution must be approved by parliament and also by the people in a nationwide referendum in order to become valid. "If I lose that referendum it means my policies have failed," the premier said of the reform that would overhaul Italy's slowly, costly lawmaking system by transforming the Senate into a far smaller assembly with limited lawmaking powers. He also said his government's Italicum electoral reform bill is "a parliamentary masterpiece" and will provide political stability. The Italicum is designed to get rid of Italy's notoriously unstable governments by ensuring the next general election produces a clear winner. "This government represents a 4-0 victory of politics over populism," Renzi said. "The result, thanks also to (our) Senate and electoral reform, is a solid and stable country". This is why Italy is no longer stagnating but growing, the reformist premier said. "They used to say Italy is in a permanent state of stagnation," Renzi said. "If 2015 was the year of reform, 2016 will be the year of values". To this end his government's 2016 budget law "puts money in schools, universities, culture, the civil service". This goes in the opposite direction to the EU, which may explode due to economic reasons because it has betrayed its principles - "which are not economic ones", Renzi said. He said a recent French election result showing early gains by the extreme-right Front National was not due to the November 13 Islamist terror attacks in Paris but to the economic crisis, which "feeds demagogic forces". Europe "is growing less because it has chosen a mistaken economic policy - Obama's policies have led America out of recession, European ones haven't," Renzi pointed out. "The right track has not been chosen - that of flexibility, growth and investments". Renzi went on to say that until recently, Italy counted for little on the international stage but his government has changed that. "Italy did not count in foreign policy, we never even touched the ball - we were not invited to the Iran meetings," Renzi said. "Now we can sit at those tables - in Vienna over Syria, in Rome over Libya". Relations with the United States have never been better, he added. However "we have come to the realisation that part of the world also needs Russia" to solve international problems. In terms of the plight of asylum seekers fleeing war and Islamist fundamentalists in Africa and the Middle East, Renzi called for Afghanistan to be included among the countries whose citizens can be inserted on the lists of people needing international protection. He also said that while Italy can handle migrant arrivals on its own, Europe needs to come up with a unified asylum policy. "Italy can go it alone," he said. "A country of 60 million can relatively easily (process) 150,000 arrivals this year, 170,000 last year - Italy does not have a numerical problem on which it needs help from Europe. The point is that we must have a unified framework, a European asylum policy". On the home front, the premier said his government is committed to passing an anti-homophobia law in 2016 and that the issue of stepchild adoptions will not be removed from a bill on civil unions now before parliament. Stepchild adoption "is a proposal we have backed since 2012", he said.

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