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A continent confronts the ballot box. Again

Matteo Renzi has put Italy’s future—and that of the Euro—at stake in a referendum

A time-bomb is ticking away in the heart of Europe, carrying a label marked “Made in Italy.” It could yet be defused. But if it goes off, it would make Brexit look like a lot of fuss about nothing.

The time-bomb has been laid by Italy’s young, reformist Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. The potential trigger is the referendum he has called for 4th December on reforms to the country’s constitution. The explosive content is that his fiercest and strongest opposition, the Five Star Movement, is also young, reformist, and wants a referendum held on Italy’s membership of the euro. And it is running neck and neck with Renzi’s party in national polls.

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In Prospect’s December issue: Sam Tanenhaus argues that Donald Trump was born to be a campaigning demagogue, but will he be too bored to rule? Ed Miliband and Michael Gove debate whether parliament should have a binding vote on the terms of Brexit and Christian Wolmar examines the driverless car delusion. Also in this issue: James Harkin examines the situation in Syria, focussing on Raqqa Ruth Dudley Edwards explores the battle in Ireland since the UK’s decision to leave the EU—will the border become a division? And Michael White looks at the life of Alan Johnson, the Labour MP and former postie.