Democracy vs Neoliberalism

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi officially resigned last week following a crushing and - some would say self-inflicted - defeat at the polls.

Like British Prime Minister David Cameron before him, Renzi had staked the future of his political career to a referendum, in this a case a referendum on amending Italy's constitution.

Renzi probably expected to win handily, but when voters went to the polls this weekend, he was crushed.

Italians voted overwhelmingly against his proposed constitutional amendments.

In the final tallies, 59.11 percent of voters voted "no," and 40.89 percent voted "yes" - a difference of almost exactly 20 points.

In the wake of Sunday's shocking vote, the mainstream media coverage in the US and across much of the Western press has portrayed the referendum much like it did the June Brexit vote in the UK -- as a massive populist revolt led by the far-right.

The New York Times, for example, ran a story with the headline "Renzi Quits; Italian Populists Seek Quick Vote to Win Power".

This narrative - that far-right populists are on the verge of taking over Europe - is a powerful one these days - especially after Trump's shocking victory here in the US.

But is it accurate, at least in this case with Italy?

Is the far-right on the march - or is something else entirely going on?

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