Italian Premier Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum defeat

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has resigned after suffering a heavy defeat in a referendum over his plan to reform the constitution

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has resigned after a resounding defeat in a referendum over plans to reform the constitution.

In a late-night news conference, Renzi said he took responsibility for the outcome, and said the No camp must now make clear proposals.

With most ballots counted, the No vote leads with 60% against 40% for Yes.

The turnout was nearly 70%, in a vote that was seen as a chance to register discontent with the prime minister.

READ MORE A referendum's far-reaching effects: What's it for Malta?

"Good luck to us all," Renzi told reporters. He said he would tell a Cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon that he was resigning, and then tender his resignation to the Italian president after two-and-a-half years in office.

“I take full responsibility for the defeat,” Renzi said in an address from Palazzo Chigi. The Italian people “have spoken in a clear and unequivocal way ... We leave with no regrets,” he added.

Renzi said the reforms he proposed would have cut Italy's bureaucracy and made the country more competitive.

His resignation may now pave the way for the formation of a caretaker government and, possibly, new parliamentary elections next year.

Among the biggest winners from Italy’s vote is the antiestablishment 5 Star Movement, which campaigned against Mr. Renzi and his agenda, saying more radical change is needed. The party has called for a nonbinding referendum on Italy’s euro membership. It also wants to abandon EU budget strictures and has said it might favor printing a parallel currency.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's head of government communications, Kurt Farrugia, tweeted that Malta had "lost an ally" with Renzi's resignation.

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