The Veneto, the 5 million strong region of northern Italy that includes Venice itself, has voted for independence in a referendum with 89 percent support. The referendum is unofficial and will not lead to independence, but it does at the point to a very real frustration Venetians are feeling with the Italian state. The Telegraph reports:
Giving his backing to the referendum last week, Veneto governor Luca Zaia said residents were currently paying 68.5 percent of their incomes in taxes to Rome, which he accused of using the cash to prop up insolvent towns in Italy.“We have 581 local councils and not one is in the red,” he said.“Rome treats us as the edge of the empire, good only to pay taxes.”
The Daily Mail noted that Venetian activists have been working with the Scots to coordinate their agendas in working towards independence.There’s an argument that Venice has a stronger case for independence than Scotland. It’s been independent for a longer period of time, united with the rest of Italy for a shorter period of time, and was never given the option to vote on joining the Italian state. To quote Wordsworth’s “On The Extinction of the Venetian Republic”:
Once did She hold the gorgeous east in fee;
And was the safeguard of the west: the worth
Of Venice did not fall below her birth,
Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.
She was a maiden City, bright and free;
No guile seduced, no force could violate;
And, when she took unto herself a Mate,
She must espouse the everlasting Sea.
And what if she had seen those glories fade,
Those titles vanish, and that strength decay;
Yet shall some tribute of regret be paid
When her long life hath reached its final day:
Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade
Of that which once was great is passed away.
There’s a stronger fiscal case as well—Scotland gets more than it pays in taxes from UK, while Venice is a huge net contributor to the not very effective or transparent Italian state budget.We’re not holding our breath waiting for Italy to dissolve, but we can’t help but think that if the vanished states of yesteryear should begin to return, La Serenissima, the great maritime republic that once held the gorgeous east in fee, would not be the least storied or glorious state to resume its place in the pageant of history.