- If you like your Republic... March 24
Venetians have voted overwhelmingly in an unofficial and non-binding referendum to break away from Italy and form their own sovereign state. Eighty-nine percent of voters in the lagoon city and its surrounding area opted to break away. Organizers said that 2.36 million people — 73 percent of those eligible to take part — voted. The proposed new country, the Republic of Venice, would include the five million inhabitants of Italy's Veneto region.
Venice — famous for its canals — has only been part of modern Italy since the 1860s. The 1,000-year–old democratic Republic of Venice was absorbed into modern Italy in 1866 after defeat by Napoleon in the 1790s.
Why does Venice wish to leave now? Campaigners for Venetian independence say it's the economy, stupid. Venice pays €71 billion to Italy's central government in taxes, but receives just €50 billion back in government services. The extra money goes to subsidize poorer regions in Italy's south, which have been hit hard by the economic crisis in the Eurozone.
The result of the vote is not recognized by Italy's government. However, Venice's leadership may now begin withholding tax from Rome. President of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, of the separatist Northern League party, told the Daily Mail that Venetians had lost 85,000 jobs in the crisis and were now hungry for change: "The will for secession is growing ever stronger," he said. "We are only at the Big Bang of the movement — but revolutions are born of hunger and we are now hungry. Venice can now escape."- - John Aziz
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