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Veneto voting on independence in on-line referendum

Campaigners want 'Most Serene Republic' to separate from Italy

18 March, 15:28
Veneto voting on independence in on-line referendum (ANSA) - Venice, March 18 - Residents of the affluent northern Veneto region continued voting Tuesday in an extended on-line referendum that asked whether they wanted to remain part of Italy or secede as an independent state.

In total 700,837 people out of a total population of 4,865,380 had in two days taken part in the poll that began on Sunday and is organised by Plebiscito.eu.

Vincenza was the province with the highest participation to date (over 182,000 voters), followed by Treviso (179,000), Padua (166,000), Venice (143,000), Verona (92,000), Belluno (28.000) and Rovigo (29.000).

Voters are asked:"Do you want Veneto to become an independent and sovereign federal republic?".

The results are due to be announced after voting closes on Friday and follow a survey commissioned by the movement Idipendenza Veneta which showed that in January, 56.7% of residents questioned said they were in favour of secession compared to 53.3% a year before.

The outcome will have only political significance but is expected to lend weight to a bill currently before the Veneto regional council calling for a referendum on whether Veneto should break away from Rome. Veneto is governed by Luca Zaia of the regionalist and separatist Northern League party, which supports the initiative.

However opponents on the council, including members of the centre-left Democratic Party as well as centre-right Forza Italian and New Centre Right (NCR) oppose the scheme on grounds that a popular vote on the long-mooted issue would be illegal, even if it was not legally binding. "The on-line referendum is confirmation of the fact that those of us from Veneto take a modern view of the issue," said Zaia. "I hope the result of this on-line referendum is a stimulus for the regional council to approve the bill calling for a referendum and begin formal proceedings," he concluded.

The on-line referendum has generated considerable interest by international media, particularly in the UK and Russia.

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