By Jude Haddad and Rishi Sharma
Editor-in-chief and News Editor
Two of Italy’s richest Italian regions, Lombardy and Veneto, have voted for more autonomy following Catalonia’s independence referendum. Presidents of the regions claim that more than 90 percent of Lombards and Venetian voters voted yes in their non-binding referendum.
Lombardy and Veneto are regions in Northern Italy that include Milan and Venice, respectively. Both regions together account for 30 percent of Italy’s national wealth, making the independence harmful to the rest of the Italian economy. The two regions argue that the north has been subsidizing the poorer south for too long.
One of their main complaints is that the regions send more in taxes to Rome than what they receive in public funds. The regions want to halve their contribution. Lombardi pays 54 billion euros (233 bn AED) more than it receives, and Veneto pays an excess of 15.5 billion euros (67 bn AED).
The president of both regions are members of the Northern League. The party belong to a right-wing platform; contrary to the rest of left-leaning Italy. Criticizers of the movement claim that the two presidents are attempting to further their right-wing Northern League agenda prior to the general elections next year. Although the referendum is legal under Italian constitution (but non-binding), the central government in Rome says the polls are redundant.
It can be argued that the aims of the Italian referendum are similar to that of Catalonia’s independence movement. Both regions are the richest in their respective countries, and claim that they are carrying their country’s financial burdens.
However, Lombardy’s president, Roberto Maroni, distanced the Italian referendum from the one in Catalonia. He stated to Reuters news agency in Milan, “We are not Catalonia. We remain inside the Italian nation with more autonomy while Catalonia wants to become the 29th state of the European Union,” he added.