Italian government admits "a Venetian question" exists which should be solved by increasing autonomy

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano says "strong discontent" exists in Veneto, acknowledges Rome cannot "turn a blind eye" to pro-sovereignty movement, quotes "enhanced federalism" as possible answer · Veneto is to decide in June whether it calls non-binding referendums on independence and increased autonomy

The clearest sign so far that the Veneto pro-sovereignty call has been received in Rome emerged the day before yesterday as Interior Minister Angelino Alfano admitted that "a Venetian question exists", and that it should be solved one way or the other. After meeting Veneto governors, Alfano (New Center Right party) acknowledged that there is a "strong discontent" in Veneto. As regards to independence demands there, Alfano admitted : "We cannot turn a blind eye to that. The answer should double: on the one hand, autonomy should be increased; on the other, state services must be improved". This response could include the testing of an "enhanced federalism" in Veneto, which gave way to more correspondence between taxes paid and services received in that territory.

The admission that Italy has a problem in Veneto comes a month after the Plebiscito 2013 group held an online, non-binding referendum on independence, in which according to the organizers turnout was 63%, with 89% of votes in favor of secession. The vote was criticized as unreliable, but a poll commissioned by La Repubblica showed that 55% of Veneto citizens are in favor of seceding from Italy.

After Alfano's visit, Veneto President Luca Zaia (Venetian League-Northern League) insisted that "the pro-independence and pro-autonomy sentiment is widespread in Veneto". The territory, Zaia claimed, "has always sought autonomy, but it has never come".

Zaia therefore continues to play his double-geared discourse for autonomy and independence. Veneto President has repeatedly said that he is in favor of independence and that he would vote "yes" if a referendum was ever called, but he also is trying to negotiate a renewed, more autonomous position for Veneto within the Italian Republic. Three weeks ago, Zaia asked in Rome for a special autonomous status for Veneto (only five territories enjoy such an agreement so far: Aosta, Trentino-South Tyrol, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Sardinia and Sicily) as the Italian government is preparing a constitutional reform on this issue.

Within a month and a half, the Veneto Regional Council is to decide whether it calls a non-binding referendum on independence and another one on increased autonomy.

(Image: Angelino Alfano / Picture by European People's Party.)