Renzi speaks out over oil drilling referendum

 ROME -- Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has urged Italians to disregard a call by his own Democratic Party Secretary for abstentions in next month's referendum on oil drilling, cautioning that as many as 10,000 jobs in the oil industry are at stake if the country votes against exploration in the Mediterranean and Aegean.  He clarified the official party line in saying: “What the Democratic Party gives an indication of does not mean that there isn’t the full opportunity for everyone, without the intervention of the secretary, to act as he or she believes.”

 “The principle is to make to the referendum fail” with the abstention, the premier then claimed, whilst speaking at the second national conference of young Democratic Party.  Immediately afterwards Renzi returned to the attack on the group ‘No Triv’ and reiterated that the consultation, from his point of view, is a “waste.”  “Everyone, when they vote either yes or no, should think if it’s right that 10,000 people will lose their jobs” and “leaving the oil there that then can be used by others, for example the Croats,” asked Renzi.

 “Don’t be taken for a ride: that of April 17 is not a referendum on new drills, which already have the strictest rules in Europe.  It is a referendum, for all its legitimacy, to block systems that work.  I consider it a waste.”

 “The regions that have brought the drills into question are the centre-right and centre-left.  It’s the question of Zaia and Toti,” he then said, without citing the Democratic governor of Apulia Michele Emiliano.  “They asked that at a certain point we say enough is enough.  To do what?  Do not throw away 300 million to give signals.  Think about how many places in kindergartens we can make with the money.”

 As to the decision not to carry out the vote on the same day as the administrative one, “it is being done on a different day because of the Italian law, not because we chose it.”

 There was no reference to the fact that the same vice-secretary of the Democratic Party Debora Serracchiani, until a few years ago, was forcefully opposed to drilling in the sea.  On the other hand, Renzi has beat the drum about the contribution to extraction, to satisfy national demand, Italy has made.  “Since the unification of Italy, we have extracted 200 million tonnes of oils and 767 billion cubic meters of natural gas.  All this doesn’t allows us to be independent in terms of fuel, but helps us to play a part in the reserves.”

 He emphasised the fact that on this referendum question there will be “maximum information.”  “You know what the question is?  Not ‘do you want to live in a wonderful world with wind turbines in which we are the leaders’ or ‘with oil pouring out of our ears’, instead: the referendum is ‘do you want that when the concessions expire, activity will be frozen even though there is still oil and gas?’”