Prime minister Matteo Renzi on Tuesday threatened to resign if Italians reject planned constitutional reforms he claims will make their country more governable.
The Italian parliament has yet to ratify the government-sponsored reforms, which strengthen executive power and are due to be put to a referendum in the second half of next year.
"If I lose the ballot, I will consider my political experience to have failed," 40-year-old Renzi said at a year's end press conference in Rome.
"We imagine the referendum will be held around mid-October," he said.
With a new electoral law introducing a two-round voting system, the constitutional reforms will give Italy more efficient decision-making, stronger growth and more stable government, argue Renzi and his allies.
The constitutional reform bill effectively abolishes the upper house Senate as an elected chamber, replacing it with regional councillors and mayors.
The referendum promises to be bitterly contested, with all the main opposition parties set to campaign against the changes.
Critics say it weakens parliamentary democracy, reducing checks and balances on the executive guaranteed by Italy's post-war constitution, drafted after the collapse of the Fascist regime of World War II dictator Benito Mussolini.