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Italian PM Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum defeat

The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said he will resign on Wednesday evening following approval of the 2017 national budget.

He offered his resignation following defeat in Sunday's referendum on legislative changes.

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Italian exit poll shows heavy defeat for PM Renzi

Exit polls in Italy suggest the Prime Minister has suffered a heavy defeat in a referendum over constitutional reform.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi cast his vote in Italy's referendum Credit: Reuters

Matteo Renzi has said he would resign if the Italian people reject his plan to reduce the role of the Upper House Senate and claw back powers from regional authorities.

A loss could plunge the country into political turmoil, which could have ramifications for the rest of Europe too.

Italian populist parties - including the anti-immigrant Northern League - have been waiting in the wings, banking on Renzi losing the referendum in the hope of seizing power themselves.

Renzi is due to address the nation at midnight local time (11pm GMT).

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