Calls For Greater Autonomy Stepped Up By Milan And Venice After Scotland And Then Catalonia

The latest bid by European regions too wrestle more power away from the establishment was marked as two of Italy’s wealthiest regions are poised to hold a referendum on greater autonomy Sunday.

More control over their finances and administrations is being demanded and pushed for by Lombardy and Veneto, two northern regions home to about a quarter of Italy’s population.

In the past, total independence from Rome has been pressed for and campaigned for by Milan and Venice, the respective capitals of Lombardy and Veneto.

Sunday’s vote is about fiscal autonomy and not secession, lawmakers have however agreed ahead of the forthcoming ballots.

But the referendum results will not be legally binding even though both the votes have been authorized by the relevant state institutions.

In recent years, holding a vote for greater autonomy as an exercise of a European region is not very uncommon. The very recent referendum in Catalonia, the Brexit last year and the Scotland referendum in 2014 has preceded the upcoming votes in Italy.

The victory for the yes campaign in Italy is anticipated to be ‘very likely’.

The Northern League is the main sponsor for the two initiatives and controls the governors in both Lombardy and Veneto. The Northern League is Italy’s populist anti-immigrant party.

Because of the fact that it will provide significant bargaining power in future negotiations with Rome over the distribution of tax revenues, the Northern League will be hopeful of a “very likely” yes victory on a high turnout, said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence.

Piccoli said in a research note that in the meanwhile, in the short run, the Northern League “is seeking to secure a major political boost ahead of next year’s general elections.”

Perhaps money is the most important factor and is the most fundamental reason for securing greater autonomy from the center. They felt forced to host a referendum after dialogue with lawmakers in Italy’s capital broke down, the president of Veneto, Luca Zaia, and his counterpart in Lombardy, Roberto Maroni, have both claimed.

They each send over 50 billion euros ($59 billion) more of their taxes to Rome than they get back, both regional leaders have reportedly said.

While the governing Democratic party has called on citizens in both areas to abstain Sunday , the Five Star Movement, the insurgent populist party, has thrown its support behind each campaign.

A non-binding victory for greater autonomy in both Lombardy and Veneto is widely expected.

(Adapted from CNBC)


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