June 26, 2006

Italian reforms headed to referendum defeat: poll

ROME (Reuters) - Italian voters appear to have rejected
constitutional reforms that would have strengthened the prime
minister's powers and given regions greater autonomy, according
to television opinion poll.

The poll by Sky Italia television broadcast on Monday at
the end of a two-day national referendum said the
constitutional changes, opposed by Prime Minister Romano
Prodi's centre-left majority, appeared headed to a narrow

The poll of 2,200 voters showed 52 percent had opposed the
proposed reforms and 48 percent had favored them, Sky Italia

The constitutional reforms were passed by the government of
former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi but required backing
from a referendum. A simple majority of those voting would be
enough to either block or approve the changes.

Proponents said the changes would end the nation's half
century of revolving governments and save money by slashing the
number of lawmakers. But opponents said the changes would split
the nation and end up costing the country billions of euros.