Venetians have voted overwhelmingly for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy.
Inspired by Scotland’s separatist ambitions, 89 per cent of the residents of the lagoon city and its surrounding area, opted to break away from Italy in an unofficial ballot.
The proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ would include the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and could later expand to include parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Residents of Venice have voted 89 per cent to leave Italy and become an independent state in protest at high taxes levied on the wealthy in order to prop up the poor and crime ridden Mezzogiorno south
The floating city has only been part of Italy for 150 years. The 1000 year–old democratic Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, was quashed by Napoleon and was subsumed into Italy in 1866.
Wealthy Venetians, under mounting financial pressure in the economic crisis, have rallied in their thousands, after growing tired of supporting Italy’s poor and crime ridden Mezzogiorno south, through high taxation.
Activists have been working closely with the SNP on their joint agendas, even travelling to Scotland alongside Catalonians and Basque separatists to take part in pro independence rallies.
Campaigners say that the Rome government receives around 71 billion euros each year in tax from Venice – some 21 billion euros less than it gets back in investment and services.
Organisers said that 2.36million, 73 per cent, of those eligible to take part voted in the poll, which is not recognised by the Rome government.
The ballot also appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from Rome.
Independence campaigners have taken inspiration from the SNP and have visited political rallies in Scotland along with Catalonians and Basque separatists
Campaigner Paolo Bernardini, professor of European history at the University of Insubria in Como, northern Italy, said it was ‘high time’ for Venice to become an autonomous state once again.
‘Although history never repeats itself, we are now experiencing a strong return of little nations, small and prosperous countries, able to interact among each other in the global world.’
‘The Venetian people realized that we are a nation (worthy of) self-rule and openly oppressed, and the entire world is moving towards fragmentation – a positive fragmentation – where local traditions mingle with global exchanges.’
President of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, of the separatist Northern League party, said that Venetians had lost 85,000 jobs in the crisis and were now’ hungry’ for change: ‘The will for secession is growing ever stronger .
‘We are only at the Big Bang of the movement – but revolutions are born of hunger and we are now hungry. Venice can now escape.’
The five-day poll came in the same week that Crimean residents chose in a landslide vote to leave Ukraine and become part of Russia.