Italian Premier Matteo Renzi peers out from a window of Chigi palace premier office in Rome, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP)
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When former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano tapped Matteo Renzi as prime minister in February 2014, he urged his younger colleague to change the constitution in order to make it easier to govern Italy. Early this year, Napolitano fretted that Renzi was taking the wrong approach in doing so.Instead of focusing the election campaign on the merits of the ambitious reform, Renzi had turned it into a de facto plebiscite on himself by promising to quit if people voted against the changes.Renzi is not disappearing from the political scene; he remains the leader of Italy's biggest party and, at the age of 41, has time to craft a return to government.The opposition party Forza Italia (Go Italy!) of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had given its support and opinion polls suggested that more than 70 percent of the electorate were in favor.Messina found it hard to convince Renzi to do otherwise, a source close to the prime minister said.In the three weeks before the Dec. 4 vote, the prime minister went back to his original strategy – playing on his own appeal to try to sway voters and making clear he would indeed quit if he failed.
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