While the the Catalonia secession crisis continues in Spain, centrifugal forces in Italy are gaining momentum, says Rachel Sanderson in the FT. In two referendums last Sunday, over 90% of voters in the northern regions of Veneto and Lombardy, which account for about a third of Italy’s gross domestic product, voted in favour of more autonomy and the chance to keep a bigger percentage of their tax revenues.
The two regional governments will now begin negotiations with Rome. Like Catalonia, the two regions are “major economic engines”, says Lisa Jucca on Breakingviews. They jointly comprise 30% of Italy’s GDP.
They have long insisted that the money they pay the central government is unreasonable compared with what they get back. Lombardy says its shortfall is €54bn a year; for Veneto it is €15.4bn. Lombardy notes that Sicily, the country’s poorest region, receives €10.6bn more than it pays Rome.
However, there are key differences between the votes in Spain and Italy, argues The Economist. While both reflect “the impatience of rich northerners with poor southerners, whom they consider idle, corrupt and spendthrift”, the two Italian votes “were indisputably legal”, as they had been endorsed by the Constitutional Court two years ago. What’s more, neither Lombardy nor Veneto “proposes independence”.
Indeed, “the most cynical view” is that the Northern League pushed the plebiscites to raise its profile ahead of next year’s election, and is more concerned with building a countrywide populist movement.