Italian regions Lombardy and Veneto seek autonomy in referendum
Over 90% of voters in Italy's rich northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto have voted yes in a non-binding referendum for more autonomy from Rome. Leaders of the two regions, which contribute around 30% of Italy's national wealth, have long argued the country's poorer south is being subsidized by the north. The vote comes against the backdrop of Catalonia's push for independence from Spain.
Lombardy home to Italy's financial capital Milan
Lombardy is home to Italy's financial capital Milan while the Veneto region surrounds Venice. The presidents of both region belong to the right-wing Northern League. Critics argue that the referendum is a stunt aimed at improving the party's chances in next year's general election. Critics questioned the millions spent on a referendum when all regions already possess the constitutional right to negotiate with Rome.
Why do both regions want more autonomy?
Both regions have complained that they contribute considerably higher taxes to Rome compared to what they receive for public spending. Lombardy President Roberto Maroni said the region pays $64 billion more than what it receives from Rome, while for Veneto, this figure is around $18 billion. Both want their contributions to be halved. Voter turnout in Lombardy was around 40%, while in Veneto, 57-61%
Lombardy's president distances referendum from Catalonia situation
"We are not Catalonia," Maroni told reporters. "We remain inside the Italian nation with more autonomy while Catalonia wants to become the 29th state of the European Union. We, no. Not for now."