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Leonid Bershidsky

Italy's Vote Was the Latest Stupid Referendum

The prime minister had to resign after misjudging the will of the people.
Lost battle.

Lost battle.

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

For the second time this year, a referendum has toppled a European government: Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy announced his resignation after voters rejected constitutional reform. Like David Cameron's Brexit fiasco, this didn't have to happen. Given how widespread referendums have become in the last two decades, it's time for advanced nations to figure out the best practice for plebiscites and stop misusing them.

Matt Qvortrup of the University of Coventry, who specializes in studying referendums, says direct democracy wasn't particularly popular until the 1980s.