A man reads the Messaggero newspaper in a showcase outside the Messaggero headquarters in Rome, Italy, December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
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One man and one word dominate Monday’s Italian newspaper headlines. The man is Matteo Renzi, and the word is No.

The front pages are awash with photographs of the Italian prime minister looking rueful, or devastated, or with his head in his hands after his crushing defeat in Italy’s constitutional reform referendum.

None is more telling than the photo carried by La Stampa, the Turin newspaper. It shows Mr Renzi with his back to the camera and his arm around his wife Agnese as they left the Palazzo Chigi, the prime minister’s office in central Rome, early on Monday morning after he announced his resignation.

“Avalanche for No, Renzi: I quit”, is the accompanying headline.

All the papers agree that the margin of defeat for the young and ambitious prime minister was unexpected. Almost 60 per cent of Italians voted No, compared with 40 per cent who voted yes. The turnout was also unexpectedly high — 68.5 per cent, according to Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business newspaper. That reinforces the scale of Mr Renzi’s defeat.

Newspapers hostile to Mr Renzi, his centre-left Democratic party and his constitutional reforms appeared to enjoy his moment of humiliation. Il Fatto Quotidiano, which supports the anti-establishment opposition group the Five Star Movement, has a photo of the prime minister with his head in his hands, shown in a sort of horror movie red hue and the headline “The constitution beats Renzi 59 to 41”.

Il Giornale, which is owned by the media group controlled by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, says simply: “Renzi goes home”. It concludes that “the entire country rebelled against the government” — a claim borne out by the fact that only three of Italy’s regions voted for the constitutional reform proposals — Trentino Alto-Adige in the north east, and Emilia Romagna and Tuscany in central Italy.

There is also much speculation about what happens next. Mr Renzi is due to meet President Sergio Mattarella later on Monday to offer his resignation, and the question is who will be asked to form the new government — assuming that the president does not call a general election.

La Repubblica, a liberal newspaper, divides the candidates to be the next Italian prime minister into four categories — technocrats, politicians, establishment figures and outsiders. All are men. Among them are Pier Carlo Padoan, the finance minister, Paolo Gentiloni, foreign minister, and former prime minister Romano Prodi. The smart money, the paper says, is on Mr Padoan.

In a commentary by Mario Calabresi, La Repubblica’s editor, the paper says Mr Renzi took “a leap in the dark” with his risky referendum, and lost. The outcome, it warns, will have repercussions beyond Italy, into the EU.

A note of caution is struck by Roberto D’Alimonte, a commentator in Il Sole 24 Ore. He writes that, for Italian voters, “the desire to protest has outweighed the desire to change”. But the outcome needs to be seen in context. “This referendum cannot be compared to Brexit,” he says, referring to the decision by UK voters in a June referendum to leave the EU. “Leaving the EU is a different thing, politically, to not changing the constitution.”

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