Just as Acton concluded its ‘Reclaiming the West: Freedom and Responsibility‘conference series in London on Dec. 1, Italy was getting ready to decide its own fate among troubled Western democracies. On Dec. 4, the storied homeland to some of the greatest intellectual, political, religious and artistic genius over the last 2,500 years voted to implement or reject deep political reform via the ruling Partito Democratico’s proposed constitutional referendum.
No doubt it was a fundamental decision about freedom and responsibility. But apparently not a ‘do or die’ proposition, as billed from the left-wing party’s bully pulpit.
On Dec. 5, a record poll turnout (70%) resulted in Italians putting their feet down, a clear and decisive stop to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s ‘December Revolution’. The ‘No’ vote won by a landslide margin: 20 percentage points (60% to 40%).
It is as if Italy had tuned in to Acton’s conference ‘The Crisis of Liberty in the West’, where outspoken Europeans advocated for ordered liberty. They called for deeper reflection on core human values and steadfastness in upholding timeless truths, rather than seeking change for its own sake or for some momentary advantage, thereby creating bastions of relativism and utilitarianism among civic institutions. This is challenging advice for Italians, who historically have been seduced by the brilliant sophistry of their scheming political leaders.
Last week, however, Italian voters stood united. They showed they were sick and tired of being hoodwinked during debates and ultimately at the polls. Enough was enough: Basta! No longer would their suffrage be cashed out for any party’s short-term political gain.
In short, Italian voters smelled a rat – a ruse used for a political power play. (more…)