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Italians Vote to Reduce Number of Lawmakers by a Third

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ROME-—Italians voted to shrink the size of the national parliament, according to exit polls, in an expression of Europeans’ continuing frustration with their political class.

More than 60% of voters approved a constitutional amendment that cuts the number of lawmakers by about one third, exit polls taken after a referendum held on Sunday and Monday showed.

The change is a victory for Italy’s 5 Star Movement, an eclectic antiestablishment party that has channeled popular anger with a political caste that many Italians see as privileged and out of touch with ordinary people. The referendum shows the continuing strength of populist sentiment in Europe that blames the shortcomings of political elites for countries’ economic and other woes.

Europe’s political establishment has this year hoped that the new challenges of the coronavirus pandemic would lead voters to prefer the governing experience of traditional parties, dampening fervor for political insurgencies from the nativist right or the anticapitalist left. But both the referendum and Italian regional elections, held at the same time, suggested the pandemic hasn’t weakened voters’ appetite for punishing longtime incumbents.

“Populism is far from dead. The antiestablishment sentiment is still pronounced in European societies,” said Catherine De Vries, a political scientist at Milan’s Bocconi University.

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