SPOTLIGHT: EUROPE'S FATE, FROM ROME TO LONDON
Italy's 5-Star Movement won the mayoral races in Rome and Turin, where Virginia Raggi and Chiara Appendino will become the two major cities' first female mayors. For Italian pundits, their victories, particularly Raggi's landslide triumph in the Eternal City, is a major blow to center-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. But the reverberations may be felt well beyond Italy's borders.
The electoral success of yet another anti-establishment Eurosceptic party comes just four days ahead of what may be the EU's biggest test in memory. The British will vote Thursday in a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union. And with three days to go, both sides are still neck-and-neck. The brutal murder of pro-EU member of Parliament Jo Cox last week seems to have shifted the momentum in Remain's favor, though all polls show that the number of undecided voters is still high enough to sway the vote in either direction.
But there is a third option, hypothesized by Financial Times reporter David Allen Green, namely that the British government could simply ignore a Brexit victory. But the consequences of such a move would only give more grist to the mills of anti-EU parties, and even xenophobic populists, who already point out that Brussels is too far removed from the people who pay its bills. There is a lesson that goes back a decade to referendums on the European Constitution in the Netherlands and France: in a democracy, the voters don't ever go away.
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