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President Mattarella : Democracy is solid

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Italy's president is urging calm in the political crisis triggered by Premier Matteo Renzi's resignation after a resounding defeat on a referendum about reforms.

President Sergio Mattarella said the high turnout - 68.5 per cent - in Sunday's referendum "is testimony to a solid democracy, of a passionate country capable of active participation."

Mattarella was expected to meet with Renzi at the presidential Quirinal Palace, where the premier announced that he would go to tender his resignation as head of the two and-a-half-year-old centre-left government.

Mattarella said: "Italy is a great country with so many positive energies" and urged that all political discussions be "characterised by serenity and mutual respect".

Mattarella noted that Italy faces institutional commitments and deadlines, a clear reference to the national budget law that must be passed later this month by Parliament. The president could ask Renzi to stay on until at least the budget legislation is approved.

 

NEED TO TACKLE ILLS

 

Meanwhile, Germany's central bank chief, who sits on the European Central Bank's governing council, said Italian politicians need to show after the referendum result that they are committed to tackling their country's economic problems.

According to a text of a speech in Munich Monday released by the Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann said: "It has to be feared that reform activity in Italy will now slow down again. And that would be an ominous development not just for Italy."

Weidmann noted that Italy has had weak growth for years, has high government debt and banks saddled with large quantities of bad loans.

He said that the "no" vote to constitutional reforms "certainly isn't the end of the world ... but it is all the more important now for Italian politicians to send convincing signals that they are tackling the economic problems at the roots".