Italys referendum to change the highly conservative 2004 legislation on assisted fertility has not reached the necessary quorum of 50 per cent of the voters plus one. Across the country the turnout average about 26 per cent of the electorate. However 90 per cent of those who did vote were in favour of changing the present law on three of the questions, on stem cell reserach, on the number of implants allowed and on the rights of embryos. Only 78 per cent of those who voted wanted to change the present section of the law that forbids assisted fertilisation outside the married couple.

The low turnout is seen as a victory for the Roman Catholic Church in Italy, which campaigned hard, with the support of the new pope, to persuade the faithful to abstain from voting. It is certain to be interpreted as an upswing in the influence of the Church in Italy and will be criticised by many, especially on the left of the political spectrum, as a renewal of interference by the ecclesiastical authorities in Italian politics.

In the 1970s the Church threw its weight against the divorce and abortion legislation without any success. This new victory will therefore be regarded as the first signs of renewed interest among Italians to Church teaching.