This posting is only partly about the recent Italian referendum on constitutional changes but stay with me as it references things happening here too.
I can’t claim to know a great deal about recent the Italian Referendum but what got me was an interview conducted by the BBC in Rome where they were asking people attending a football match how they had voted. Amongst those being interviewed was a chap who said I voted no because I don’t like Renzi. Renzi was the Italian Prime Minister calling the referendum.
Now excuse me but what kind of answer is that for a response to a question about how and why you voted one way or another? You are asked a question about your country’s constitution and your answer is that you voted a particular way because you don’t like the person who asked you the question!!! Wow that’s just ridiculous.
I don’t know why the chap said what he did. Was he showing off to his mates? Or, more worryingly, was he telling the interviewer and therefore goodness knows how many TV watchers that this was his genuine reason for voting the way that he did?
It reminded me of hearing that some people here in the UK saying that they voted ‘no’ in our EU referendum because they wanted Cameron out. It was as though they had not got their heads around that fact that Cameron would simply be replaced by another Tory who was probably more unlikable! Of course they got their wish and we now have a prime Minister who seems to be awaiting divine guidance to plot a Brexit course!
Behind all this both Cameron and Renzi called referendums that they then lost and in both cases it finished them off. Both also succeeded in putting their country into crisis. Neither had read the sage advice that voters will usually set their face against what the government of the day wants of them. Another example is Nick Clegg’s now almost forgotten referendum on changing the UK voting system. He had less than no chance of getting that one through after his run in with the electorate over tuition fees but he pressed the self destruct button too!
Surely the lesson of referendums, in democracies that hold them infrequently, is that many voters will answer a different question to the one they have being asked. The Swiss may be the exception to that rule though as their whole democracy seems to be referenda based.
Now about that proposed second EU referendum……………..