The separatists exult: the Regional Council gives the OK to the Venezia-Mestre separation referendum

The Council has voted on the merit of the proposal. But there is the risk that it could be declared illegitimate using the Delrio law. Brugnaro has announced he will appeal.

(Ed. note: As reported earlier on this site, this vote was originally scheduled for Jan. 24. Some internal wrangling delayed that vote until mid – Feb.)

14 Feb. 2017

The vote has arrived, and this is a result that was not a foregone conclusion when, three years ago, the proposal for a popular initiative was first presented. The Regional Council of Veneto Tuesday afternoon in fact approved the judgment of merit for the referendum on the separation of the City of Venice in to two autonomous areas: the lagoon and the mainland. This is the fifth time that the citizens could be called to the voting booth to express their thoughts. The separatists immediately cried victory, pointing out that “only now begins the real game”. The result of the Council meeting was, however, foregone: the Lega is in favor of the proposal and has the majority in the Assembly. The path for ‘yes’, while with plenty of debate involving all the political forces, was all downhill.

The numbers tell the story: 34 in favor (Lega Nord, Gruppo Zaia Presidente, FdI-An Mcr, SiamoVeneto, M5S, Lista Tosi, Veneto del fare), 2 against (Donazzan e Giorgetti di Forza Italia), 1 abstention (Barison, Forza Italia). The Pd, Amp, Area Popolare, and Veneto Civico did not participate in the vote.

The course followed by the referendum, however, may be broken by a collision with the Delrio law reforming local entities. Therefore the game, other than political, will also be legal: the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro has announced as much, and is lining up forces against the proposal. In fact, the law says that regarding a Metropolitan City, it must be the provincial capital city to call it, and that all the residents of the city must be called to vote. This is a process much different from that followed by this proposal, for which the final word would have to come from the Regional President, Luca Zaia. There is therefore the risk that the eventual result would be declared illegitimate. Brugnaro, for his part, had also announced a possible appeal to the Tar in case the Council would approve the judgment of merit. The appeal was announced directly after the vote at palazzo Ferro-Fini: “We are taking action as the Regional Council has expressed a favorable opinion – he declared Tuesday evening – A judgment given only on the merit of the legislative proposal, without any further understanding of the actual legitimacy of the same. The citizens have a full right to express themselves via the tool of referendum, which has already been done four times, but before voting on it for the fifth time, it is necessary to be sure that such a tool is legitimate. I want to recall that the legislative and judicial branches of the Region, twice, and above all the Department of Regional Affairs of the Presidency of the Council and Ministries, as well as the Civic Advocacy of the City and that of the metropolitan City, have all expressed the opinion that this provision is illegitimate. The principal of responsibility requires us to act so that the citizens are not called to act on something useless, wasting public resources. Therefore – concluded the Mayor – we will act on the mandate received in court, in all the available venues, against the acts that the Region has adopted and that it will adopt.”

In favor of the proposal is a wide political spectrum. As well as Carroccio, also the 5 Star Movement: “10,000 have signed for the referendum on the separation of Venice and Mestre. The proposal therefore has all the characteristics to be carried out, and it should be done, we and politics are only spokesmen of the citizens, it is up to them to decide the merit – said 5 Star Councilor Jacopo Berti – as a minority party we placed the merit of the referendum of the calendar for the Official Agenda. We do not intend to speak of the merit of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, politics is like an arbiter, to write, hold and respect the rules of the game, but not to ‘touch the ball’. The rules, in this case, are clear, the 10,000 signatures have been collected and the will of those who signed must be respected.”

Of a completely different opinion is the communal secretary of the PD of Venice, Maria Teresa Menotto:
I believe that the choice taken by the Regional Council was not justified, considering the technical and legal opinions against it – she argued – I only hope that such a choice does not cause harm taxpayers in the future, as the referendum would have to be considered illegitimate. As far as I am concerned I can do no more than to reiterate my position, expressed clearly at the recent meeting, of absolute opposition to the division”.

Another exponent of the Democratic Party, parliamentarian David Zoggia, instead “blesses” the referendum: “The political scene and the sensibilities of the people have decidedly changed from where we started – he said – We are already in the context of a metropolitan city and have reached a point of no return for the problems of the city. The issues are well known to all, from the difficult sustainability of mass tourism to the decay and depopulation of the historic center. The separation of the City of Venice cannot however be trumpeted and used for only political ends but must represent a concrete occasion to resolve all of the urgent issues that represent the specific issues of distinct zones. Personally – he concluded – I will work until we are headed in a direction that is marked by participatory democracy, that permits all the citizens to express themselves on such an issue with the tool of the referendum. I maintain, outside of any political affiliation, that this is the only solution able to quiet any social tension that has over time run through the life of a city that other than being the capital of Veneto has an international importance”.

Source: Venezia Today, Feb. 14, 2017

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