Recently, quite a few Italians have been fleeing Italy for greener pastures. Now though, a whole Italian region wants to do the same. The world probably wouldn’t have noticed except for the fact that this region includes none other than the world famous canal city of Venice.
Last week, Italy’s Veneto Region – which includes Venice – held an unofficial referendum on leaving Italy.
Plebiscite 2013, the organisers of the unofficial referendum claim that 2.36 million Venetians voted. If true, this equates to 63.2% the region’s voters and 89% those who voted said yes to independence which would be the same as 56.6% of the region’s population voting for secession. This result was enough for the Plebiscite 2013 people to declare the independence of the Veneto Region on March 21st!
For your information, the Veneto region of Italy has a population of a little under 4.9 million.
The governor of the Veneto region, one Luca Zaia, a member of the Liga Veneta–Lega Nord party, acknowledged that the referendum result indicated the will of the people, though he also knows that the vote is not legitimate. The Lega Nord, of which Zaia forms part, has long sought to detach, not only the Veneto region, but the whole of north Italy from the nation often known as Italy. Zaia’s support for the independence of the Veneto region comes as no real surprise.
A Local Opinion
A Veneto region resident I know, Monica Ceserato, was scathing about the referendum and equally so about the number of people who actually voted. She seems to regard the Veneto independence movement as being little more than an idea cooked up by a bunch of local crackpots.
Behind the Referendum
It was the Venetian Independence party which was behind the referendum, though for reasons of Italian complexity, no doubt, it did not set up the poll in its own name. Instead, the Plebiscite 2013 organisation, as mentioned before, organised the referendum.
On its website, the Venetian Independence party (VIP!) argues that the Veneto can achieve legal independence and wants to hold a referendum to start the ball rolling. According to the Venetian Independence party website, said referendum will be official and will be overseen by United Nations observers. Only the recent, online referendum was not official, so it was not monitored by the United Nations.
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Along with the Veneto Independence party, there’s also the Venice State party – another movement which wants to see Venice return to the glory days of La Serenissima – the Most Serene Republic of Venice which ceased to exist rather a long time ago, in 1797, in fact. Calls for the independence of Venice have been growing in Italy slowly but surely since the 1970s.
Why Would the Vento Region Want to Leave Italy?
Some of the residents of Veneto region are not happy with the control exerted on them by Italy’s government in Rome and they feel that the contributions the region makes to central government coffers exceed the amount it receives back. Adding insult to injury is the long standing belief that the hard working Veneto residents are subsidizing Italy’s lazy south.
Adding to the woes of the residents of this area of northern Italy is the more recent introduction of Euro currency which many seem to consider has affected their livelihoods negatively. On top of this, EU rules and regulations, combined with Italy’s taxes and legions of red tape are, it is argued, slowly killing businesses in the Veneto.
Was last week’s Referendum merely intended to Test the Water?
Maybe. The week-long vote was largely ignored by Italy’s press with only the La 7 channel devoting some airtime to it. Italian news magazine L’Espresso ran a piece claiming that it was easy for one person to vote more than once in the referendum and actually went as far as registering an invalid vote using an invented name. This, of course, raises questions as to the validity of the result.
Even so, the Veneto independence referendum attracted interest from outside of Italy with the Russian press comparing the Veneto’s desire for independence to that the situation in the Crimea area of the troubled Ukraine.
Scotland’s bid for independence is also said to be fuelling the Veneto secessionists too. That Slovenia achieved independence is something else which motivates the Veneto independence party.
Will the Veneto and Venice become independent?
Probably not, though this is Italy and anything can happen. What might happen though is that while the Venice region probably won’t become a fully independent nation, it might manage to achieve the same autonomous status as that of its neighbour, the much smaller, Fruili Venezia Giulia region. Whether this would keep the Veneto independence movement people content is open to question though.
As a side-note, Fruili Venezia Giulia is one of Italy’s most efficiently run, least corrupt, and most productive regions.
For more information on the Veneto independence movement, see Venetian nationalism on Wikipedia.