Italian PM Matteo Renzi staked everything on a referendum to reform Italy's constitution on Sunday, and the referendum -- and Renzi's government -- have now both gone up in smoke.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed to resign after suffering a crushing defeat on Sunday in a referendum on constitutional reform, tipping the euro zone's third-largest economy into political turmoil.
His decision to quit after just two and a half years in office deals a blow to the European Union, already reeling from multiple crises and struggling to overcome anti-establishment forces that have battered the Western world this year.
The euro fell to 20-month lows against the dollar, with markets worried that instability in the euro zone's third largest economy could reignite a dormant financial crisis and deal a hammer blow to Italy's fragile banking sector.
Renzi's resignation could open the door to early elections next year and to the possibility of an anti-euro party, the opposition 5-Star Movement, gaining power in the heart of the single currency. 5-Star campaigned hard for a 'No' vote.
"I take full responsibility for the defeat," Renzi said in a televised address to the nation, saying he would hand in his formal resignation to President Sergio Mattarella on Monday.
Mattarella will have to embark on a round of consultations with party leaders before naming a new prime minister -- Italy's fifth in as many years -- who will be tasked with drawing up a new electoral law.
Brexit, now Renzi out in Italy, almost certainly to be replaced by a nationalist government. France is almost certainly next. The bright spot in Europe right now? Austria.
Austrian voters roundly rejected on Sunday a candidate vying to become the first freely elected far-right head of state in Europe since World War Two, halting at least temporarily the wave of populism sweeping Western democracies.
The runoff vote was a litmus test, since it was a re-run of a vote held in May, before Britain voted to leave the European Union and Americans elected Donald Trump as president.
Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Freedom Party lost the May election by less than a percentage point, and polls had for months shown the race too close to call.
But within minutes of polls closing it was clear he had lost to former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen, who had put the June Brexit referendum at the center of his campaign, saying Hofer would lead Austria down the same road as Britain and warning voters not to "play with this fire".
"A red, white and red signal of hope and of positive change is being beamed from Vienna through Europe," Van der Bellen said in a victory speech, referring to the colors on Austria's flag. "I will be a pro-European president of Austria open to the world."
So there's that, but it's only a matter of time before France goes the way of the UK, and the EU falls. They will get no help from America under Trump, as we will most likely be in the depths of a major war, major depression, or both, soon.