MILAN (AP) -- Italians vote Sunday in a referendum on constitutional reforms that is being closely watched abroad to see if Italy becomes the next country to reject the political status quo.
Premier Matteo Renzi has said he will resign if the reforms are rejected, and opposition politicians have vowed to press for a new government if voters reject the proposed constitutional changes.
The premier made no comment as he voted in Pontassieve, a Tuscan town east of Florence, along with his wife, Agnese Landini. He is expected to return to Rome later this afternoon to watch the outcome of the vote.
The risk of political instability in Italy, Europe's fourth largest economy, has triggered market reaction before the vote, with bank stocks sinking and the borrowing costs on sovereign debt rising.
European partners were closely monitoring the vote, which comes on the same day as a runoff in Austria that could put a right-wing populist in power for the first time since World War II.
A headline in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Renzi's "arrogance is his shortcoming," noting that "Europe is at stake" in the vote. The Guardian noted that the referendum was among a series of votes in Europe that could "conceivably herald the end of the European project in its current form."
Presidential election is being held in Austria, after results of the May voting were annulled. The European nation is once again choosing between the former Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen and Norbert Hofer, who is running for the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO).
The rerun vote was ordered by Austria's Constitutional Court after the previous presidential election, held on May 22, was disputed following complaints of irregularities. The initial election saw the former Greens’ leader, Van der Bellen win with 50.3 percent of the vote, compared to Hofer’s 49.7 percent, with only 31,000 votes separating the candidates.
The Freedom Party complained of procedural irregularities with regard to the absentee vote count, with the highest court having later confirmed the claim.
The country has officially been without a president since July 8, when its previous leader, Heinz Fischer, stepped down. Even a rerun date had to be rescheduled by two months, following more complaints of irregularities with postal votes.
Back in spring, both candidates were neck-and-neck in national polls almost all the way up to the election day. Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent endorsed by the Green Party, was considered a firm favorite, but Hofer unexpectedly won the first round, having paved the way for the runoff.
Despite some analysts saying that the disputed postal votes might have likely been in Van der Bellen's favor, as the majority of them are cast by expatriates who tend to prefer open-border and pro-EU policies, others argue that the situation in the world has changed and Hofer might benefit from the so-called "Trump momentum."
The big question is whether or not the Austrian election will be rigged once again.
Hofer told RT yesterday he wants to bring an end the sanctions placed on Russia.
That would go a long way towards halting the Cold War program EU bureaucrats have been pushing in concert with Neocons in the US.