(Releads with Merkel comments)
BERLIN Dec 5 German Chancellor Angela Merkel
said on Monday she was saddened by Italian Prime Minister Matteo
Renzi's defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform that she
supported, adding that the vote was a domestic matter that must
Many investors are looking to Merkel for leadership in
Europe, fearing instability could reignite a sovereign debt
crisis at a time when the EU is struggling with Britain's
decision to leave and support for populist or right-wing parties
is on the rise.
"I am sad that the referendum in Italy did not turn out as
the prime minister wished because I always supported his reform
policies but it is of course a domestic Italian decision that we
must respect," Merkel told reporters in the city of Essen where
her conservatives are holding a party congress.
Earlier, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the
chancellor had taken note of Renzi's decision to step down after
the referendum with regret.
Seibert said Merkel had a good relationship with Renzi,
marked by deep trust.
"The German government will offer close cooperation in
friendship and partnership with the successor government in
Italy, whatever it looks like," Seibert added at a government
He declined to draw any parallels between the Italian
referendum result and the Brexit vote in June and the election
in the United States of Donald Trump as the next President.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a member of the
Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Merkel's
conservatives, was more blunt, saying he was disappointed by the
"This is a government crisis, not a state crisis. It is not
the demise of the Western world but it is not a positive
contribution in the midst of our crisis situation in Europe," he
said through a spokeswoman.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, Joseph Nasr and Michelle
Martin; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)