Lombardy and Veneto vote for more autonomy

In referendums held in the regions of Lombardy and Veneto in northern Italy on Sunday a large majority voted for more autonomy. These voters should bear in mind that federalism is not a cure-all for the problems in Italy, commentators point out.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

South Tyrol isn't Sicily

If the topic of autonomy rights rises to the top of the agenda in Italy the Italians would do well to bear in mind that more federalism doesn't automatically lead to better administration, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“With a constitutional reform Matteo Renzi's government also tried last year to slim down the state and make it more efficient through moderate centralisation. Because more federalism hasn't always turned out to be a good thing in Italy. While some of the five regions with special statutes like Trentino-South Tyrol have done well, the far-reaching autonomy in Sardinia and Sicily has aggravated chronic problems like bureaucracy and corruption.”

La Stampa (IT) /

A revolt against the elites

On the ballot papers the issue was more autonomy but the real and far more important question was another, La Stampa concludes:

“Are you happy with the status quo? The answer was a resounding and unanimous No. And the government and parties in Rome would be ill advised to shrug off this response. We are dealing with the umpteenth demonstration against 'those up there' by 'those down here', with a protest that has long since been directed against the leading classes in all European states. ... Those who voted yesterday have not suddenly become supporters of the Lega Nord. They feel abandoned by the state, betrayed by the political class. And they hope that a different dimension of power that is closer to their cause, that speaks their language and dialect, can provide the answers they are looking for in vain.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Grist to the mill of the nationalists

The referendum was organised with the parliamentary election in spring 2018 in mind, La Repubblica explains:

“The vote is useless in many respects because the constitutional implementation of the new regulations on decentralisation was already foreseen in the reform of Title V [of the constitution]. But the referendum has helped local politicians and thus been grist to the mill of the Lega Nord. The direct consequence: nationalist Salvini has been strengthened vis-à-vis [alliance partner] Forza Italia. ... Lega Nord will be even more determined to assert its rights and push through its demands: enough seats to bind [Forza Italia leader] Berlusconi to its cause and prevent him from forming a coalition with Renzi. Or in other words: if there is to be a government of national unity, then Lega Nord will be part of it. Hardly a rosy prospect for the centre-left camp.”