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What If Sardinia Became A Swiss Island?

Could landlocked Switzerland finally get some coastline? There is a movement afoot pushing Swiss annexation of the Italian island of Sardinia.

Frivolous island?
Frivolous island?
Nicola Pinna

ORISTANO — There is a quietly growing group of people fantasizing about the scenic Italian island of Sardinia being annexed by landlocked Switzerland. Is it a sign from the stars that the new rector of the Swiss University of Ludes, Antonello Martinez, was born in the Sardinian town of Oristano and studied at the island's biggest university in Cagliari?

For those new to what may seem like a bizarre idea, there is indeed a movement afoot. On the Internet, people are talking about a 27th Swiss Canton — that is, Rome selling Sardinia, and the Mediterranean island then being annexed to Switzerland. It would be a win-win for everyone, really. Italy gets some Francs, and Switzerland finally gets some coastline. Meanwhile, the Sardinians would be emancipated from their turbulent relationship with the Italian government.

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Sardinian sunset — Photo: Francesca Special K

Political fantasies like this are often roused and encouraged on social networking sites, but from Lugano to Bern this one is all over the place — in newspaper headlines, in bar chit-chat and even in some political commentary.

Switzerland’s conservative parties often worry about their borders being breached thanks to immigration, but they’re willing to make an exception for Sardinians. “It would be a pleasure, but certainly we wouldn’t invade Italy just for some access to the sea,” says Pierre Rusconi, leader of the far-right Ticinese Central Democratic Union (UDC) and a national advisor who promised a referendum on immigrants. “As for the Maritime Canton, the citizens themselves need to decide, and I believe that the majority of the electorate would actually be in favor of it.”

Even Attilio Bignasca, coordinator of the right-leaning Ticino League political party, favors a referendum. “How could you say no to Sardinia?” he sayd. “Sun, sea, heat and relaxation. It would be our green lung. We wouldn’t mind it, but it’s just a dream.”

In Switzerland, the idea of extending the Sardinian borders seems to be gathering more consensus than expected. The promotors of this geopolitical revolution (10,000 Facebook fans and a website that receives plenty of traffic) have thought of almost everything — even the flag. It would be an amalgamation of both flags: square and red with a white Greek cross in the middle and four Moors in each quarter.

To explain the project, this is what a political manifest sent to the parliament in Rome said: “We want to live in a normal country, that offers its own citizens opportunities for work and business, that has laws that are clear and equal to everyone, with a stable economy and balanced taxes.”

But until a referendum is actually proposed, the Swiss are imagining their future ironically. “The Sardinians should have run their autonomy like we intended them to, without any Italian grants,” Rusconi continues. “In the meantime, the confederation will organize a military flotilla to defend the Sardinian waters.”

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