Veneto poll spearheads autonomy, Lombardy trails

Milan Duomo

ROME- Polls show that 98.1 percent have voted for autonomy in Veneto in a non-binding referendum. Reports indicated that, in Lombardy, 95.29 percent of those casting ballots voted yes. As many as 37 percent of the electorate voted for autonomy in Lombardy whilst Veneto had a 57.2 turnout.

 Supporters of Northern League Veneto leader, Governor Luca Zaia, celebrated victory Monday after 57.2 percent of eligible voters came out in near unanimous support of greater autonomy.

 Veneto is in a much stronger position than Lombardy due to the latter’s poor voter turnout. Milan had the lowest voter turnout of the region with only 31 percent of eligible voters coming out to vote.

 Lombardy and Veneto jointly make up 30 percent of the Italian Economy. Milan, in the province of Lombardy, is a business hub that contrasts sharply with Southern Italian cities. Both regional leaders are members of the Northern League, a centre-right party. To be sure, this referendum revolved around where these regions wealth is distributed. The statistic of 54 million euros that leave Lombardy each year, 15 million for Veneto, to the poorer south has become central in the lead-up to this referendum.

 While it remains to be seen what happens as a result of this, it is clear that these Northern provinces are dissatisfied with the South’s lacklustre economic contribution. National identity versus regional identity no doubt make the notion of economic imperative easier to choose than supporting cities such as Naples, a mentality that the Italian Constitutional Court in Rome has deemed “contrary to the principles of loyalty and collaboration.” 

 Veneto’s economic position and clear support for autonomy will, no doubt, be of central importance over the coming weeks as Rome responds. Lombardy’s weak voter turn out will perhaps do more harm than good to the region, with some commentators comparing the situation to the EU referendum backfiring on Tory politicians. It is currently ambiguous whether or not this referendum was a massive mistake for the current Lombard politicians. Given that the governing party of both regions is the Northern League, it is reasonable to assume that Veneto will utilise its strong position to assist Lombardy in talks.