The Referendum: Silence and Intimidation.


[Ed. Note: what follows is an open letter to an online news journal, written by local activists, regarding information suppression in advance of the Referendum vote on 1 December]

23 Nov. 2019

Letter to the Director

The date of the referendum is approaching, and the Mayor, contra legem, has called for abstaining from the vote. Such an act is anti-democratic when it comes from someone who has political administrative responsibilities.

Beyond this, we are faced with a deafening silence from the Municipality regarding the Referendum, and thus many people still don’t know that it will be held on 1 December. The spaces for hanging political posters in Venice have been reduced to just one per sestiere… therefore there are only 6: in Mestre, one of the largest Municipalities in Italy, there are only 7.


We went to hand out flyers and the Municipal Police, more efficient than ever, asked us to identify ourselves, confusing the ban on commercial flyers with the political ones about the referendum. But there’s more. Many people have hung banners to mark the date and encourage change, and the Municipal Police, suddenly very efficient, are demanding they be taken down. It seems that in this case they are basing their demand on a law from 1956.

The moral: you can’t talk about the Referendum! Promoting voting means trouble! Expressing one’s ideas means trouble! We feel increasingly foreign in a City that sanctions free democratic expression, while it allows others to disregard the rules, such as with moto ondoso, out of control tourism, etc.

venezia dall'alto piazza san marco area marciana

We thought we lived in a democracy, and that we were protected by a democratic Constitution. We were mistaken. Venice is a special City, not for helping with housing and restoring the population, but for impeding access to public and institutional information and the free exercise of democratic rights. We feel increasingly like “outsiders” in our own home. It’s a dismal thing, especially if we think of those who gave their lives for democracy and the liberty of words and expression. And to think that at one time the two cities were free and autonomous. They were put together only by the will of the Fascists. Years of fighting to be democratic, and we come to 2019 only to feel powerless.

  • Gian Angelo Bellati, president of Mo.Va. (Movimento Venezia Autonoma)
  • Attorney Giorgio Suppjei
  • Marco Gasparinetti, Movimento 25 aprile


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