Renzi "heads abstention campaign" for drilling referendum

 ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has urged voters to abstain in Sunday’s vote on whether to stop oil drilling off the coast of Italy, “it’s a hoax referendum.  Abstention is legitimate,” he has said.  His comments have brought on a whole host of discussion and a growing sense of uncertainty as to the outcome that the vote will have.  Roberto Speranza, the deputy of the minority Democratic Party that is driving the reformist left, has said, “it’s unacceptable that the premier heads the abstention campaign.”

 Renzi justified his position by saying, “As Giorgio Napolitano masterfully explained in an interview with Repubblica, if the referendum requires a quorum, the position of those who abstained in constitutionally legitimate.”  It’s with this former head of state, Napolitano, that Renzi spoke on the day of the constitutional reforms by telephone from Iran.  So with just a few days until the vote takes place and to the anger of the ‘No-Triv’ [Anti-drilling] campaign Renzi has stepped into the field.

 The battle now for those who are promoting the referendum is to pass the quota of 40 percent participation, yet this would be well below the quorum.  A realistic objective would be to gain more than 50 percent to show that there is a strong anti-Renzi feeling throughout the country, in the hope that this would show that the leadership is not as strong as it appears.  From this standpoint they have gained significant support from certain members of the Democratic Party, such as Michele Emiliano, and various from the centre-right, like Renato Brunetta.

 “There isn’t just one drilling platform under discussion,” explains Renzi, “there is just the choice of if we continue to extract until the reserve is exhausted, without wasting that which we are already using, or whether we close them at the half-way point before their due expiry date.  To me it seems wiser to finish extracting that which there is already, without laying off the workers in this sector and without wasting the energy that we have.”

 It is also interesting to note that state run television broadcaster RAI, showed only 13 minutes of news on the upcoming referendum on their most popular news channel TG1 between April 4 to 10. The question itself will ask the question “Do you want that, once the concessions expire, the activity in the deposits in Italian territorial water stops even if there is still gas or oil?”