Renzi government survives senate no-confidence motions

Renzi government survives threats to its oil policies.

The government of Matteo Renzi comfortably survived two no-confidence motions in the senate on Tuesday, just two days after a referendum it opposed on the duration of existing oil drilling concessions in territorial waters failed to reach a quorum.

The assembly rejected the motions respectively with 96 votes in favour and 183 against and with 93 in favour and 180 against.

Opposition parties filed the motions earlier this months in the wake of investigations into the Tempa Rossa oil project in the southern Basilicata region involving Gianluca Gemelli, the partner of former industry minister Federica Guidi.

Guidi resigned in late March amid claims of conflict of interest after wire-taps emerged of a conversation she had with Gemelli informing him of a proposed government amendment that was set to benefit him.

However, accusations that the government sold out to oil lobbies remained.

The scandal broke during the campaign for the 17 April referendum requested by the regions, when Italians were asked whether or not to repeal a clause in the 2016 budget law allowing operating oil and gas fields to continue activity until all resources have been used up.

In the run-up to the vote Renzi’s Partito Democratico invited Italians to abstain on grounds the referendum was a “pointless” waste of taxpayer money.

In the event 15,806,788 Italians, or 31.19 per cent of eligible voters, cast their ballot.

This was well below the quorum of 50 per cent plus one voter needed for the result to be valid but higher than the turnout at other recent referendums that failed.

These include the June 2009 vote to repeal parts of a 2005 electoral law that was subsequently declared unconstitutional, which saw a record low turnout of between 23.4 and 24.1 per cent.

Some 85.84 per cent of people who turned out for the oil referendum voted in favour of repealing the extensions clause, while 14.16 per cent voted against.

Laura Clarke

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