• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'Rome thinks it is still an empire': Veneto president

AFP · 20 Mar 2014, 08:29

Published: 20 Mar 2014 08:29 GMT+01:00

"Rome thinks it is still an empire. It goes at its own speed and is slowing the rest of us down," Luca Zaia told foreign journalists in Rome.

Italians in Veneto are taking part in a week-long online poll on whether the region should split off from the rest of the country.

The poll is not legally binding but aims to rouse support for a bill calling for a referendum.

Opinion polls show around 60 percent of the 3.8 million people eligible to vote favour independence.

The new Republic of Veneto would be inspired by the ancient Venetian republic - a rich economic, cultural and trading power which existed from the 7th century until its fall to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797.

"The capital treats Veneto as if it was the suburbs of the Roman Empire, as if the people of Veneto are just taxpayers," he said, adding that the region pays €21 billion more to Rome than it receives in investment and services.

"Over half of Italy is technically bankrupt. Yet there is not a cent of debt in Veneto's balance sheets," Zaia said.

Plans for the referendum have sparked concerns over the possible impact the region's independence would have on Italy's fragile political system.

Secessionist parties have said that should a majority vote in favour in the online poll, they will declare independence and stop paying taxes to Rome.

London-based research consultancy Capital Economics said the poll "highlights several serious problems", including the damaging effects such a loss of revenue could have on Italy's fiscal position.

Rising support for Venetian independence and other anti-establishment parties such as the Five Star Movement (M5S) "demonstrates the corrosive impact of the economic crisis on the country's already fragile political system," it said in a note.

The recession-hit country - labouring under a mountain of public debt - has just begun to see tentative signs of growth, but "high unemployment and the need for tight fiscal policy for years to come will sustain these protest movements, complicating policymaking," it added.

Story continues below…

However, Zaia said the bill - which must be approved by the regional council before it goes before parliament - "still has some way to go".

"The government will declare the request for a referendum unconstitutional, the region will appeal and so on," he said.

"How long will it take? We are in Italy," he added in reference to the country's famously slow bureaucracy.

Don't miss a story about Italy - Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Live: Italy earthquake death toll rises to 120
Residents of Amatrice survey the damage to their homes. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

At least 120 people have died after a powerful earthquake struck a remote area of central Italy on Wednesday, said Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, warning that the figure could still rise.

At least 120 dead in central Italy earthquake
Rescuers carry a man in Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

A powerful earthquake that rocked central Italy on Wednesday left 120 people dead and the total is likely to rise, the country's civil protection unit said in the first official death toll.

Italy earthquake: What we know so far
Rescuers carry a man through the rubble of damaged homes. Photo: AFP

At least 120 are reported dead as rescuers work to save those trapped in the rubble.

A long history of deadly earthquakes in Italy
Photo taken on May 17th 1976 of a nun showing a church destroyed by the Friuli-Venezia earthquake. Photo: AFP

At least 73 people were killed after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy early on Wednesday.

'We only heard their cats': quake sorrow of Italian village
A victim of the quake in Illica desparately calls his relatives. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

Sitting with his brother on a bench in Illica, one of the Italian mountain villages devastated by a powerful earthquake on Wednesday, Guido Bordo clasps and unclasps his hands repeatedly.

IN PICS: Aftermath of deadly earthquake in Italy
A man from Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

"Three quarters of the town isn't there anymore," said the mayor of Amatrice after a deadly quake hit overnight.

Migrant travels 400km clinging beneath lorry in Italy
The youngster was spotted travelling north on Italy's A1 motorway. Photo: Polizia di Stato

The refugee was exhausted from the effort of holding onto the truck by the time he was found.

Italian teenagers to get €500 'culture bonus'
The scheme will cost the govenment €290 million. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Italians who turn 18 this year can spend the money on books, concert tickets, trips to the cinema and more.

Venice and the perennial woe of unruly tourists
Venice attracts some 22 million people a year. Photo: Moyann Brenn

"One or two fools do not represents everyone," the city's councillor for tourism told The Local.

Rome wants to send its rubbish to Austria
Rome wants to send 70,000 tonnes of household waste to Austria. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Austria has received a request from Rome authorities to help them deal with the Italian capital’s ongoing rubbish crisis by taking some of it off their hands.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
2,508
jobs available