Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Venice Holds Referendum On Seceding From Italy

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Economy Watch | Mar 18, 2014

Nearly two million residents in Veneto region, Italy, are expected to vote this week on whether to break away from Rome and form their own state, reported AFP, though the vote is not said to be legally binding nor officially sanctioned by the government.

The Veneto region, which capital is Venice, holds nearly five million people and is the fifth largest of the 20 regions in Italy.

Veneto, as part of the Republic of Venice, had been an independent state for more than a millennium, until 1797, when Napoleon conquered the area. It subsequently became part of Austria, before joining Italy in 1866.

The current independence vote is being organised by local independence parties, who want to use the results to support a bill calling for an official referendum on secession.

About two million out of four million registered voters are expected to take part, while the latest polls show that roughly 60 percent of residents are in favour of independence.

"We no longer want to be part of a country that has gone to the wall. Nothing works anymore," said Indipendenza Veneta party coordinator Nicola Gardin.

"Italy is weighed down by an enormous level of public debt, thousands of businesses have closed, we have lost count of the number of people who have committed suicide in Veneto," he said.  

he region pays around 71 billion euros ($98 billion) in taxes to Rome, 21 billion euros more than it receives in investment and services, he noted.

Leaders of the independence movement said they chose not to wait for Rome’s approval to run a vote, as a majority outcome could hasten the separation process.

"If there is a majority yes vote, we have scholars drawing up a declaration of independence and there are businesses in the region who say they will begin paying taxes to local authorities instead of to Rome," Lodovico Pizzati, the spokesman for the independence movement, told the Daily Telegraph.

"Venetians not only want out of Italy, but we also want out of the euro, the EU and NATO," Raffaele Serafini, another pro-independence activist, told the paper.

Supporters of separation want to see the creation of a state called the 'Republic of Veneto'. This comes after similar movements across Europe, including Scotland (in the U.K.) and Catalonia (in Spain).

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