Italy is poised to become the next country to reject the establishment as a shock poll finds referendum protest vote is poised to beat the government.
The upcoming vote on prime minister Matteo Renzi’s reforms will be thrown out by an 11 percentage point margin in the south of the country, according to a Demos poll.
It is being seen as his failure to reach out to the working class in the poorest areas of Italy, predominantly located in the south.
The vote could prompt an exit from the European Union and rejection would follow results in the Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidency race in citizens turning their back on the political status quo.
Italy is proposing to run a budget deficit of 2.4 percent of GDP for the year, significantly higher than the 1.8 percent level it had promised to deliver earlier this year.
Deputies on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a draft 2017 budget that the European Commission has warned will breach EU rules on the management of public finances.
Mr Renzi has said should his reforms be rejected, he would have no interest in running the country, according to the Daily Express.
Luca Comodo, director at polling company Ipsos, told the paper voters think blocking the government’s plans is a vote against the establishment and said: ‘The south is where protest and rage are amplified.’
A rejected vote would reduce the senate’s influence and withdraw power from 20 regional governments in the country.
The issue has provoked sharp exchanges in recent weeks with Renzi seen in some quarters as Brussels-bashing in the run-up to a December 4 referendum on constitutional reform, on which he has staked his political future.
New spending plans in the budget include two billion euros more for healthcare, one billion for education and measues to help small companies and poorer families.
Renzi said earlier this month that he would no longer bow to “diktats” from Brussels over fiscal restraints he regards as counterproductive at a time when most of the eurozone is struggling.
He has also threatened to block the approval of the EU institutions’ collective budget if other countries do not offer Italy more help in coping with the arrival of thousands of migrants on its southern shores.
A 2017 deficit of 2.4 percent of GDP would leave Italy comfortably within the EU ceiling of three percent.
But the Commission’s economists say Rome should bring down its deficit faster to ensure that the upward trend in the country’s huge debt mountain – equivalent to over 130 percent of GDP – is reversed.
The 2017 budget law will only be definitively approved once it has been examined by the second chamber of parliament, the Senate, which has not scheduled any debate on it until after the December 4 referendum.