Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces his resignation, following the weekend referendum in which Italians resoundingly rejected his proposed constitutional reforms. As David Pollard reports, it leaves the country in a political vacuum and an ailing banking sector in need of a lifeline.
He said he'd stay until the budget was passed. And in the event, he did - just. Matteo Renzi announcing his resignation within minutes of this vote to approve the government's 2017 financial plan. Just a short while before that, observers got a sense of how rapidly Italian politics can change. After 63 governments since World War Two, calls already loud for a new one .... (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) 5-STAR MOVEMENT SENATOR, ALBERTO AIROLA, SAYING: "The 5-Star movement hopes that consultations due to start on January 24 will result in a new electoral law in line with the constitution and we can go to elections right away. The Italian people need change, and they need to go the polls and finally have a say on policies." Renzi is seen as the architect of his own downfall as prime minister. Tying his future to a failed constitutional referendum amid a wave of populist backlash that led to Trump and Brexit. At 41, he could be young enough to engineer a comeback. Something critics say the Italian economy can only dream of. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "There is obviously now this political vacuum. The big concern , the big question mark, of course, does remain over the Italian banks and obviously what the market really does want to avoid is the necessity for government intervention to bail those banks out." But as the news of Renzi's departure emerged that's exactly what looked like it was about to happen. The government reportedly readying itself to take a two billion euros controlling stake in the failing Banca Monte dei Paschi. In a late bid to prevent one more casualty of the country's recent upheaval.