Rome, Dec 5 (IANS) Italians were expected to reject a proposed constitutional reform in a crucial referendum held on Sunday, exit polls showed.
According to local media channels, the ‘No’ vote would be between 54 per cent and 58 per cent while the ‘Yes’ vote would be between 42 per cent and 46 per cent, Xinhua news agency reported.
Polling stations opened from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (local time), and some 46.7 million Italians were eligible to cast their ballot. The Interior Ministry said that the turnout was 57.24 per cent at 7 p.m.
Over 3.9 million Italians living abroad had their chance to vote earlier this month.
Italians had to choose on whether confirm or reject a reform of the constitution that had already been passed by lawmakers earlier this year, but not with the required majority of two-thirds in each house of the parliament in the second vote.
The major amendment proposed was to cut the size of the senate to 100 from 315 seats, and strip it off the power to bring down the cabinet with no-confidence sessions and vote on national legislation.
The referendum was also seen as a key test of popularity for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s centre-left cabinet.
The government has advocated the reform, claiming it would help streamline the country’s laborious law-making process and increase the stability of the cabinets.
Opponents argued it would concentrate too much power in the cabinet, weakening the parliament’s control.
Renzi has said he would resign in case of defeat, which might trigger a government’s crisis and plunge the country back into a period of political and economic instability.