When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LA STAMPA

Veneto Referendum: Is This Italian Region The Next Catalonia?

The northern Italian region of Veneto will hold a referendum on gaining greater autonomy from the central government in Rome — but not all its citizens are aware.

Waving the Venetan flag above the city of Vicenza
Waving the Venetan flag above the city of Vicenza
Fabio Poletti

VERONA — "What? Who?" asks Wang Qu, a fruit seller at Verona's central Piazza delle Erbe. With a referendum seeking greater autonomy from Rome a week away, some local vendors here seem to know little about it. There are few campaign posters anywhere in the city, except for some leaflets distributed by the pro-autonomy Northern League party, which controls the regional government and called the referendum that seeks more fiscal autonomy from Italy's central government.

"A court ruling is holding up our funds, otherwise we would be campaigning a lot more," says Niccolò Zavarica, a neighborhood representative for the Northern League. "We are tired of being ignored, but it doesn't make sense to compare us to the situation in Catalonia."

The desire for greater autonomy is strong in a region that includes Verona and Venice, and where 70% of the population speaks the local Venetian language, and many see Oct. 22 referendum as only as the first step. A hardline separatist minority is even ready to declare independence after the vote, urging the international community to recognize the results.

"We're too used to the politics of taking small steps," says Alberto Montagner, president of the Venetian cultural association Raixe Venete. "The right to an independence referendum must become our way of life like in Catalonia, we can't just focus on our wallets or on taxes."

Veneto had a surplus of 18.2 billion euros in 2015, and the regional government is spending 14 million euros on the vote. Still, the vote is not binding, and nothing will change on October 23, even if the Yes vote wins.

If Yes wins, the regional government would be legally bound to open negotiations on autonomy

"Rome is too far away from Veneto, we have to deal with our own institutions here," says Paolo Fornaser, 52, a wine grower in the acclaimed Valpolicella wine region. "I've never been to Catalonia but we don't want a revolution here, we just want our voices to be heard."

Simonetta Rubinato, a lawmaker from the ruling center-left Democratic Party and a former mayor of a small town in Veneto, has written a book on the reasons to vote in favor of the referendum. "If the Yes vote wins, then the regional government would be legally bound to go to Rome and open negotiations on autonomy."

A similar referendum is scheduled on the same day in the neighboring region of Lombardy, home to Milan and also ruled by the Northern League. In both regions, the Democratic Party that rules in the capital has refused to campaign for or against the referendum, allowing local members to do as they wish.

"The referendum will be for all citizens, not for the political parties or myself," says Veneto Governor Luca Zaia, a strong supporter of the yes vote. "The stronger the turnout, the greater the pressure we can exert on Rome."

Despite the anti-establishment rhetoric of the yes campaign and its pledge to redirect tax revenue from Rome, some voters are questioning why such an expensive vote is even necessary. "We could've just held the vote on Facebook with likes and dislikes," says a women at the market in Piazza delle Erbe. "If nothing is going to change then why spend all this money?"

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Future

Injecting Feminism Into Science Is A Good Thing — For Science

Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

As objective as any man

Anto Magzan/ZUMA
Rachel E. Gross

-Essay-

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a mystery played out across news headlines: Men, it seemed, were dying of infection at twice the rate of women. To explain this alarming disparity, researchers looked to innate biological differences between the sexes — for instance, protective levels of sex hormones, or distinct male-female immune responses. Some even went so far as to test the possibility of treating infected men with estrogen injections.

This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ