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Northern Italy to hold autonomy referenda; Catalonia model ruled out

Europe
20.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rome (dpa) - Two wealthy northern Italian regions are holding a referendum on greater autonomy this Sunday, but organizers insist their ballot has nothing to do with the secessionist vote that has triggered a major crisis in Catalonia.

Lombardy and Veneto are home to the famous cities of Milan and Venice and account for more than 30 per cent of the national economy. Citizens there complain about paying too much into state coffers to subsidize poorer compatriots.

Catalonia has similar grievances regarding the rest of Spain. But while its leaders held an October 1 referendum on all-out independence despite a Constitutional Court ban, the October 22 ballots in northern Italy are far less controversial.

"The [Italian] referendums are in no way comparable to the drive for autonomy in Catalonia. Separatist themes play no role in the Italian autonomy debate," Joerg Buck, executive director of the German-Italian Chamber of Commerce in Milan, told dpa.

Voters will be asked if they want "further kinds and particular conditions of autonomy," to be negotiated with the Rome government and subject to approval by the national parliament. The aim is to allow the two regions to spend more of their own money.

Voting takes place from 7 am to 11 pm (0500-2100 GMT).

There is no minimum turnout in Lombardy, while in Veneto at least 50 per cent of registered voters have to cast their vote.

The hard-right Northern League, which rules Lombardy and Veneto, is the main sponsor of the referenda. No party is campaigning for a No vote, and critics see the ballots as a waste of public money, as well as a publicity stunt for the League.

 

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