On October 22, an autonomy referendum was held in the rich Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto: a true farce endorsed by all political parties that cost tax payers over 60 million EUR.
Why this story matters:
Few people in Europe know (thankfully, perhaps) that on October 22, a referendum on autonomy was held in the rich Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto. Despite propaganda by the promoters, who wanted to package it as an endeavor similar to the Catalan referendum, it was first and foremost a farce endorsed by all political parties, one that cost more than 60 million EUR in public funds.
There were in fact two non-binding consultative referendums, both of which essentially asked citizens: do you want more autonomy? It was quite foreseeable that, to such a question, the vast majority of participants would reply: yes! This outcome is difficult to translate into actual policy, firstly because the question was so vague, and secondly because the contest in which the regions at hand are functioning doesn’t allow more leeway than they already have.
What could this greater autonomy consist of, then? Basically, more resources. But the EU ‘s Fiscal Compact, which is directly incorporated into the Constitution — a constitutional amendment almost unanimously adopted by parliament — greatly limits the state’s spending capability, and dramatically reduces the spending autonomy of local authorities. How can a national government grant more autonomy to regions if there is an austerity mechanism held in place by the European Union?
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