The Corner

The Return of La Serenissima?

Here’s a telling little story from the Daily Telegraph:

Inspired by the nationalist aspirations of Scotland and Catalonia, pro-independence campaigners will hold a mass rally in the heart of the lagoon city on Saturday, calling for an urgent referendum to be held on the issue.

Indipendenza Veneta, a newly-founded pro-independence movement, says it expects several thousand people to turn up for the rally.

They will be ferried across the Grand Canal in gondolas to deliver a “declaration of independence” to the headquarters of the Veneto regional government.

It may sound fanciful, and it will be fiercely resisted by Rome, but activists want to carve out a new country in north-eastern Italy which would comprise Venice, the surrounding region of Veneto and parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

The “Repubblica Veneta”, as it would be known, would encompass about five million people.

Recent surveys show widespread support for independence among Venetians, who speak a distinct dialect and feel geographically and culturally distant from Rome.

A poll conducted by Corriere della Sera in September found that 80 per cent were in favour of independence.

A more recent poll by Il Gazzettino, a local newspaper, found a slightly lower but still overwhelming level of support – 70 per cent.

Will this movement succeed? I doubt it, although if independence is what the inhabitants want that is what they should get.

More interesting, perhaps, is this:

Italy’s economic crisis has only exacerbated Venetians’ resentment against the central government in Rome.

“The economic situation here is really desperate, with the recession hitting small and medium-sized businesses. Meanwhile of the 70 billion euros we pay in taxes to Rome, we get back about 50 billion euros, directly and indirectly. We are losing out on 20 billion euros a year,” said Prof Pizzati.

It’s another unpopular “transfer union” in other words, and made far more so, it seems, by the notion that the money should be paid “abroad” (ie elsewhere in Italy, a country in which Venice has been since the 1860s).

That ought to be food for thought for those who believe that the Germans, the Dutch, the Finns and others will always be prepared to prop up a monetary union that will involve them bankrolling the Greeks — and other foreigners — in perpetuity.

There is no “European” nation. Attempts to change that simple fact is the work of fools — or despots in waiting,  

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