After Catalonia, Independence Movements Are Voting in Italy

Both Milan and Venice have independence movements that are voting on greater autonomy for their regions.

The independence movements in Italy aren’t necessarily wanting the secede from Italy. But they are hoping to get more autonomy from the central government, and get to spend more on their own local economies rather than subsidizing the rest of the country. But what will happen as Italy’s economy and the E.U. further deteriorate? There are seeds here that could grow into full secessionism!

The New York Times reports, “First Scotland, Then Catalonia. And Now? Milan and Venice.

The one-question query that will be put to voters in this prosperous northern region of Italy [Lombardy] on Sunday is whether they want their representatives to negotiate with the central government in Rome on “particular conditions of autonomy,” and on getting greater return on their taxes. Veneto, the northeast region that includes Venice, is voting in a similar poll the same day.

In contrast to Catalonia — where tens of thousands of Catalans took to the streets for the independence referendum held there, in some cases clashing violently with the police — the mood in Italy is much calmer.

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Less is at stake; the referendum results will not be binding. But the regional governments are counting on a robust showing at the polls to strengthen their hand in bartering with Rome.

“The more people vote, the greater bargaining power I will have,” said Roberto Maroni, the president of Lombardy, whose party, the Northern League, once embraced a secessionist mantra. He now calls that a “revolutionary phase” that did not work out.

Coming on the heels of the Catalan vote, the Lombardy and Veneto referendums are yet another signal of the homegrown conflicts that persist in many of the European Union’s member states. Separatist movements are also simmering in Britain — where voters in Scotland rejected independence in a 2014 referendum but continue to debate the issue — as well as France, Germany, Belgium and Romania.

Even though the vote has not elicited much reaction here in Milan, political parties see opportunity before national elections that are expected early next year.

Read the entire New York Times story.

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