Italy’s prime minister says if his country continues to live in its glorious past, it will have no similar glory in its future. Italy is not “only a museum,” PM Matteo Renzi tells Charlie Rose, in an interview about how he wants to energize his struggling country with a radical and controversial change in the government that Italians will vote on next week. He will appear on 60 Minutes Sunday, Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT.
Renzi, at 41, is Italy’s youngest prime minister, head of a government that’s changed hands 63 times in 70 years. Italy’s economy has been stagnant for two decades; unemployment is at 12 percent. Renzi says the reason no government lasts is because there are too many politicians and with too many politicians, very little can get done, he says. Voters will decide next week on whether to approve his idea to reduce the number of senators from 315 to 100 who would be appointed, not elected. If passed, the highly controversial change would be one of the biggest in the Italian government’s history.
“This referendum is not a referendum to change democracy in Italy. Is a referendum to reduce bureaucracy in Italy. Italy is the worst country for bureaucracy around the world,” says Renzi. “Because we have a system in the hands of bureaucracy. Everything is difficult. Everything is complicated. And my idea is simply give simplicity to Italy.”
In addition to the 100 appointed senators, the Italian Parliament will still have 630 elected officials in its lower house if Italians vote yes on the referendum. But many have called his idea a move to grab more power for himself and his party by taking it away from the people. He has said he will step down and make way for the 64th government in 70 years if voters say no. “If we will lose the referendum, this is not a problem for me. It’s a problem for the new generation of Italians. Because it’s a lost opportunity,” says Renzi.
A yes vote is a vote for the future, says Renzi, “The last…20 years, Italy discussed only about the past. ‘Oh, the past is wonderful in Italy.’ Look, look Palazzo Vecchio. The most beautiful place in the world… But the past is not sufficient. Is not enough. We need the future. Because we are Italians. And Italy is not only a museum,” he tells Rose.