Two of Italy's regions will hold autonomy referendums

  22 October 2017    Read: 858
Two of Italy's regions will hold autonomy referendums
Two of Italy's wealthiest regions are seeking greater autonomy in a pair of referendums to be held on Sunday, with Catalonia's secessionist ambitions in Spain looming large over the debate, reports citing the Daily Mail.
While the presidents of Lombardy and Veneto in northern Italy are campaigning on the economic benefits of loosening Rome's grip, identity politics also plays a role - particularly in Veneto, heir to the once-vast Venetian Republic.

There, a political fringe has never given up on secession even though it has been long abandoned by the governing Northern League party.

Both Veneto president Luca Zaia and his Lombard counterpart Roberto Maroni emphasise the legal nature of the referendums, which were approved by Italy's constitutional court.

In contrast, the October 1 Catalan independence referendum was declared illegal and vigorously opposed by the central Spanish government in Madrid.

The autonomy drive is a powerful threat to Rome's authority. Together, Veneto and Lombardy account for 30 per cent of Italy's GDP and almost a quarter of the nation's electorate.

Both regions are run by the anti-migrant, anti-Europe Northern League, which has found allies for autonomy in other centre-right parties like former premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the populist 5-Star Movement.

They hope to spread the autonomy model to other Italian regions.

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