Italy Referendum: What to Watch Into the Night on SundayBy
Italians are poised to decide whether to back Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reform in a binding referendum with no minimum quorum on Sunday. Polling stations are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time (1 hour ahead of U.K.).
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Wherever you are following around the world, here’s what to expect, and when.
Provisional turnout results for the vote as of 7 p.m. CET could indicate whether turnout is high in the South and Sicily, where anti-establishment parties are strong, which would signal bad news for Renzi. A high turnout in the Center and Northwest, his strongholds, may not be enough for him but could narrow the final margin. Renzi has indicated he’s aiming for a 60 percent turnout.
Exit polls are published by at least three TV networks (RAI, LA7, Mediaset). Exit polls have often gotten it wrong in Italy. In the 2013 and 2006 general elections they overestimated the center-left’s lead by more than 5 points, and in 2008 they underestimated Silvio Berlusconi’s lead by 7 points. In the 2014 European elections, Renzi’s Democratic Party got almost 10 points more than exit polls predicted.
First projections on counted votes may be published on TV stations. Votes will be counted continuously and updated on the Interior Ministry’s website throughout the night. A national total as well as regional and city breakdowns will be available.
First provisional results from cities usually faster at counting votes should start coming in. Before a two-week poll blackout period, the “Yes” and “No” camps polled virtually even in the Northwest (Milan, Turin) and in the Center (Bologna), with the "No" side clearly ahead in the South (Naples) and in Sicily (Palermo). Milan could give the earliest real indication of where things are going. Traditionally a Berlusconi stronghold, it swung to center-left administrations in past years and elected a center-left mayor backing Renzi’s reforms in June. A wide lead for “No” in Milan could mean Renzi loses nationally.
12 a.m.-1 a.m.
New projections could indicate a winner before real vote counting is complete.
Before 3 a.m.
There may be a final result of counted votes nationally, but results from 4 million Italians abroad, who were eligible to vote until Dec. 1, could come later. While their turnout is typically lower than the national average, they have trended toward center-left candidates in recent elections and are usually pro-government. These voters weren’t included in pre-blackout polls. Their votes could come into play if the referendum margin is very close. Reports indicate that turnout for Italians abroad was higher than expected.
Matteo Renzi is known to be tweeting extensively and could announce his decision on whether to offer his resignation, based on the referendum results, through social media.
— With assistance by Samuel Dodge