Venice, which may not be part of Italy forever. garyullah (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
While the whole world was busy talking about Crimea, something remarkable happened in Venice. It’s not technically official (what does that even mean these days?) but last week, Plebiscito.eu, “an organization representing a coalition of Venetian nationalist groups,” held a referendum on Veneto’s independence. And get this: Over 2 million Venetians, 89 percent of the votes cast, marked their ballots in favor of leaving Italy!
Voters were first asked the main question—“Do you want Veneto to become an independent and sovereign federal republic?”—followed by three sub-questions on membership in the European Union, NATO, and the eurozone. The region’s 3.7 million eligible voters used a unique digital ID number to cast ballots online, and organizers estimate that more than 2 million voters ultimately participated in the poll.
On Friday night, people waving red-and-gold flags emblazoned with the Lion of St. Mark filled the square of Treviso, a city in the Veneto region, as the referendum’s organizers announced the results: 2,102,969 votes in favor of independence—a whopping 89 percent of all ballots cast—to 257,266 votes against. Venetians also said yes to joining NATO, the EU, and the eurozone. The overwhelming victory surprised even ardent supporters of the initiative, as most polls before the referendum estimated only about 65 percent of the region’s voters supported independence.
Luca Zaia, Veneto’s regional president and the referendum’s most prominent supporter, echoed the sentiments of separatist movements across Europe when he declared that international law allowed “the right to self-determination.” But whether Italian law allows it is a different matter….
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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