Italians vote on oil and gas

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ROME: Italy votes in a referendum Sunday on oil and gas drilling concessions which brings to a peak a heated de-bate fraught with risk for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and fuelled by anger over a government corruption scandal. Campaigning has pitted environmentalists against the government and big business. Italians are to decide whether they want to repeal a law, passed in January, that says existing concessions within 12 miles (19 kilometers) of the coast should remain valid until the fields are depleted, infuriating campaigners for renewable energy. Renzi’s cen-ter-left Democratic Party (PD), keen to be seen as pro-business, has called on Italians not to vote in the hope the quorum will not be met – sparking a backlash from opposition parties and deepening a split within his own camp. Under Italy’s referendum rules, the outcome of a popular vote is only valid if at least 50 percent of the registered electorate cast ballots.

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