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The referendums of the thriving Italy reopen the wound between North and south

The success of the consultations of Lombardy and Veneto ignite the federalist debate and more regions are posed to demand an improvement of their financing and more competencies

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The referendums of the thriving Italy reopen the wound between North and south

Italy dawned last Monday with an elephant in saloon. The sharp result of referendums in Lombardy and Veneto in favor of claiming more autonomy to government reopened debate on model of state that must articulate a country with a huge gap still between North and south. On Monday, Luca Zaia, president of Venetian region, perceived favorable current and demanded a special statute, much more than question of consultation. Something's moving in Italy. Even Matteo Renzi, leader of PD at opposite pole of that vision, recognized strength of new autonomism. But debate is so difficult to manage six months of general elections that even North League, promoter of referendum, has erased surname "North" of its name.

The old secessionist dream of Umberto Bossi's league, now condemned for stealing his party, was buried by his own voters. But account of economic grievances between norrn and sourn Italy has remained intact. Lombardy, door to Europe of Italy, today exhibits a fiscal deficit of 54 billion euros annually. That of Emilia Romagna, second richest community, reaches 18 billion; The Veneto are 13,000 and Torino 8,000. None of m — total a population of 25 million, almost half of Republic — has a special status, as y do have five or regions (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige and South Tyrol and Aosta Valley). But current is spreading, and Liguria also wants its referendum. More money, more power, too.

The new federalism that emanates from north is also analyzed with interest from sourn regions such as Apulia, Campania or Sicily, which holds elections next Sunday. Rome does not convey confidence. Parties that lack clear answers, with Catalan shadow in background, run risk of being swept in spring.

Element Luca Zaia, a loose verse within league that was already minister of Agriculture with Silvio Berlusconi and today represents only alternative to Matteo Salvini in party, has changed speed of this particular process. The president of Veneto — who also sounds to lead right coalition — had already tried to formulate referendum question more radically, even by skimming secessionist premises. The Constitutional Court repeatedly knocked out approach and accepted diluted final question. A quorum was set for participation of 50% of votes plus one, and finally reached 60% (with a 95% yeses).

Salvini deletes word "North" from name of party

In full fight with Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia) for deciding who leads coalition of right who are preparing to form for elections — if y are winners, one who gets more votes would also elect Prime Minister — Matteo Salvini is Unable to disguise discomfort caused by referendums in Lombardy and Veneto.

The consultations have been organized by two great leaders of his party (Maroni and Zaia) obviating The National Court speech that had taken xenophobic formation. Coincidence or not, this week Salvini has announced that game will be called League, to dry.

That is, North word disappears from map and allows an aestic recreation of what had already occurred in recent times with change of speech. "The league has long been competing at national level to transform Italy into a federal country," he said to demonstrate logic of name change.

The Autonomista phenomenon changes passage also of North League itself, converted by Salvini into a national court Lepenista party centered on discourse antinmigración. A political artifact digestable in a south punished in recent years by lack of resources to receive a surge of 250,000 migrants annually, but disconcerted now with referendums.

Next Sunday, in fact, a crucial election is held in Sicily. The M5S and right will be disputing presidency of a region that already has a special status, but which could be suspicious of defense of a new regime that passes resources to norrn Italy.

On Monday, with results on table, Zaia reflected, it was seen with greater political weight and dusted its radical aspect asking for special statute. An unassumable demand — even displacing leader of his party, Salvini, uncomfortable with referendum — which would require a reform of Constitution promulgated on 1 January 1948. The Thunder box.

Stefano Ceccanti, former senator of Democratic Party (PD) and Constitutionalist at University of La Sapienza, believes that this was original intention of Zaia. "He made only referendum that constitutional allowed him." But second after voting, he tried to assimilate outcome to content of or rejected consultations. In Veneto demand is stronger than in Lombardy because it is surrounded by communities with special status. But new league is no longer interested in this issue as a national party. "Now, however, you will have to give an answer," he warns. For Ceccanti, in any case, central government is now too weak to face such a demand. "There should first be a national reform to strengn executive on duty." "The risk, orwise, is disaster."

Risk of fire

The jolt has left groggy to a PD with serious problems of unity, also dislocated in a debate on which Renzi already gave signs of disconnection in recentralising referendum of past of December. Some of his exponents, such as Enrico Rossi, president of Tuscany, believe that question "only feeds divisions between Italians in one already fragile country architecture." But reflection, in a society in search of major changes — Antiestablishment Party 5-Star Movement leads polls — threatens to take it ahead of those who do not pay attention to it.

In European context of emergence of nationalism and in midst of Catalan crisis, issue is no less. The political Giovanni Orsia sees it as a Pandora's box difficult to control once it opens. A change of model difficult to manage without a strong Parliament. "Public opinion is very unstable today and it takes very little to ignite fire." In a situation of stability result of referendum could be re, but with so much dissatisfaction, anger and desire to change, an initiative such as this can awaken an issue so far numb. There is no doubt that Italy is a divided country. The north is a piece of Europe in full title, and South still has stronger Mediterranean profiles. "Opening this melon now is dangerous."

Forza Italia, perhaps best sitauda in this game, supported referendum — Berlusconi decided at last minute to do it publicly — and articulates a discourse he has already held in past to fit a "variable geometry" federalism into his program.

Deputy Renato Brunetta, leader of formation in Parliament, is unmarked of "excess of enthusiasm of Zaia". The formula, he says, is to convene referendums all over Italy. "Regions are more efficient in spending according to principle of subsidiarity." Have more skills, but with better spending capacity. At state level does not change anything, because it stops managing with same money a certain competition. The total account does not change, "says Brunetta.

The synsis of this Berlusconiano federalism is as follows: less invasive state in north and more efficient state in south. "Many competitions in South are managed badly." Some citizens would want health, for example, to return to state because it trust more than its regions. It would be an absolutely virtuous mechanism of subsidiarity, insists Brunetta. The Sunday elections in Sicily will bring some clues to it.

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