Following the results of the Italian referendum Sunday night, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Rome demanding that Italy leaves the European Union.
Left wing protesters gathered outside the parliament of the Eternal City after it was confirmed that the No vote had defeated the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and their plans to reform the Italian Senate. Protesters held banners telling the government to respect the vote, Today.it reports.
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Many of the protesters also demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister, who at a press conference after the announcement of the result, said he would tender his resignation to Italian President Sergio Mattarella explaining, “When you lose, you cannot pretend that nothing has happened and go to bed and sleep. My government ends here today.”
The result of the referendum could lead to snap elections as early as February and the growing popularity of the Eurosceptic Five Star Movement has many worried the Italians could vote to leave the political bloc as Britain had done earlier in the year.
Tensions heated up between protesters and police stationed outside the parliament and ultimately the authorities decided to shut the protest down. Three individuals were taken into custody by police as other demonstrators yelled “shame on you” to the officers.
One of the student leaders of the protest, 27-year-old Michele Sugarelli, said: “Brexit was not a vote against Europe, it was a vote against the EU, which takes power from the people and makes decisions against their interest[s]. We want the same thing. We want change in Italy and in Europe.” He added: “We want opportunity for young people, and we want the EU to finish.”
Another protester named Pietro described the police tactics saying: “They are being violent because they are afraid. Now is a moment when the elite could fall. People don’t want any more economic sacrifices while the government preserves the interests of the banks and big corporations.”
A student named Lorenzo, who spoke at the protest said: “Everyone talks about young people, but when we actually raise our voice, this is the result.” He went on to note: “I don’t think the EU will survive the next few years. In Italy, everyone hates this thing called the EU. It is falling apart and we hope it happens quickly.”