On Wednesday, Italy’s Constitutional Court will rule on a challenge to labour reforms brought by the country’s largest trade union – the CGIL – which want the laws put to a referendum. The reforms, known as the Jobs Act, were introduced by former PM Matteo Renzi and make it easier to monitor and fire workers.
If the court rules in favour of a referendum, one must be held between Apr. 15 and Jun. 15.
A ruling mandating a referendum brings with it the prospect of another referendum defeat for the ruling Democratic Party (PD), a politically unpalatable scenario. Thus if the court rules Italians must vote on the Jobs Act, PM Gentiloni’s caretaker administration is more likely to call early elections. This in turn raises questions about the weakness of the PD, and conversely, the strength of the anti-establishment, anti-EU Five Star Movement.
Some legal experts doubt whether the court will grant the referendum request (meaning the Jobs Act will stay). Nonetheless, the fragility of Gentiloni’s centre-left party will endure, as will the threat from the populists.
David is the Europe team’s leader and senior editor. David has a background in EU financial and immigration legislation.