Italy's Northern League To Launch EU Referendum Campaign Next

Shortly after the final Brexit result was released, first Netherlands and then France quickly warned they too would proceed with their own referenda. They are not alone: moments later the head of Italy's Northern League Said "Now it’s our turn’ After U.K.

As Dow Jones reports, Italy's anti-immigrant and euroskeptic Northern League will start a petition calling for a law that allows a referendum on whether the country wants to exit the European Union, its leader said on Friday. In a news conference following the announcement of the U.K.'s decision to leave the EU, Northern League's head Matteo Salvini said that it was time to give Italians a vote on their EU membership, as the citizens of Britain have just done.

"This vote was a slap in the face for all those who say that Europe is their own business and Italians don't have to meddle with that," Mr. Salvini said.

The Northern League launched a campaign against the euro in 2014, but it has been since overshadowed by the anti-immigrant campaigns on which it has built up its electoral support.

Northern Leage is not alone: recall that earlier this week, the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, emboldened by dramatic victories in Italy's recent mayoral elections in which Virginia Raggi, a 37-year old lawyer, was elected Rome's first female mayor by winning a stunning 67% of the vote in the second round, also revived plans for a referendum on leaving the euro.

The movement launched a campaign for a referendum on the euro in 2015 and collected more than 100,000 signatures calling for such a vote.

Even so, the campaign may be moot: the Italian constitution, however, does not allow the cancellation of international agreements through a referendum.

However, even a purely symbolic vote to exit the EU or eurozone would put pressure on the Italian government, led by Matteo Renzi. He has consistently made a pro-European stance.

It will be interesting if anti-European sentiment is as prevalent in Italy as it is in the UK - leaving the euro doesn't seem a popular option among Italians. According to a poll conducted by pollster SWG in March, 61% of Italians support remaining in the euro area and acknowledge the benefits of being part of it.