A self-organised “referendum” over the independence of one of Italy’s wealthiest regions has resulted in an overwhelming victory for the separatist camp, but authorities in Rome have largely ignored the result, amid scepticism over the regularity of the informal, non-binding poll. Nevertheless, events in Veneto, the north-eastern region around Venice that is home to almost 5 million people, have attracted international attention, particularly from government-sponsored Russian media, keen to draw comparisons with the military-backed vote that sanctioned Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Out of 3.8 million eligible voters, 2.3 million took part in Veneto’s independence “plebiscite,” organisers said Friday, after six days of voting through makeshift polling booths, via phone or the internet. The pro-secession camp was declared the winner with over 89 percent, against just under 11 percent for the unionists.
“The Venetian Republic is born again,” the leader of the ‘yes’ camp, Gianluca Busato, exclaimed at a victory rally in Treviso, in front of a crowd of a few hundred supporters.
However, before the results were announced, a programme on RAI state television had shown how easy it was for non-Veneto residents to take part in the online poll using fake names. On Sunday the La Stampa newspaper noted that voter turnout was remarkably high in a region where, according to national statistics, only 60 percent of the people use the internet.
“Voting for Veneto’s independence was like clicking ‘like’ on Facebook,” Stefano Allievi, a sociology professor from Padua, told La Stampa.