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Italy isn’t leaving the EU - the British press must stop saying that it is


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In the aftermath of Sunday’s constitutional referendum, the British press started arguing that Italy is now the next country in line to leave the EU. But this is a lie. The electorate voted ‘no’, but in no way the referendum was meant to regard the relationship between Italy and Brussels.

Matteo Renzi officially resigned and now the country is understandably disoriented. The Italians rejected his proposal, having voted on him as a leader rather than on the actual reform. The constitution remains unvaried, but in no way this implies that country will leave the EU when the new government will come to power.

First of all, who knows who’ll come to power? At this stage, it is worth clarifying that Renzi won’t leave the office until the 2016 Finance Act will be approved, that is to say the end of the year. After that, Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s President of the Republic, will probably entrust the government to somebody close to Mr. Renzi to lay down a new electoral law – as of now, a mandatory step to then set up a new, effective government. Only at the end of this process – spring 2017? – the Italians will be asked to vote again.

Within Italy’s political spectrum, only the Northern League has shown the intention of leaving the EU, sharing the views of euro-sceptic politicians such as Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen. When addressing the issue, however the press seemed to advance the hypothesis of a victory of the Five Stars Movement. What if they win at the next general election? An anti-establishment party comes to power, that’s it, really. For sure, they won’t share Brussels’ same values, as they profoundly disagree on how Renzi tackled some issues on a European side. Nevertheless, in several circumstances they have clearly stated that the won’t ask for an Italexit, as their main goal is to renegotiate – and not delete – the relationship between the the country and the EU.

Perhaps, the UK press just wanted to persuade the Britons that they are not alone. But, Italy has founded the European Community, having participated in every single stage of its constitution from the EC to the modern days. Economically speaking, leaving the Euro would be a catastrophe for the country, not even comparable to the UK situation. The pound has always been a guarantee fund, under this perspective, whereas Italy cannot even think to go back to the lira, as it would possibly lead to bankruptcy or even worse.

Perhaps, the British press just found it easier to to keep quite this part of the story, hoping to share the same uncertain destiny outside of the EU with another country.

Lastly, we should ultimately consider a substantial difference between Brexit and the Italian vote. It wasn’t Mr. Renzi’s choice to call the referendum. In Italy, every constitutional change must be approved by the electorate. David Cameron, on the other hand, chose to call the EU Referendum, having deliberately personalised the vote, too wishful for the favour of the public opinion.

All said, the UK press should have considered all these factors before passing off political fiction as reality. Politics is fascinating because it allows people to make their own judgments. In a social age, where transparency is one of the most important values within the media industry, UK news publications could have behaved better. Checking sources when speaking about another country’s destiny should be a moral obligation, not just an option. It’s fair to make predictions. But should we consider legitimate to lie just to make the news?

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