Veneto president: ‘We will vote for our autonomy in 2017’

EPA/JOCHEN A. KRAUSE

A photo shows a view of the Canale Grande in Venice, Veneto region, Italy. 

New Europe spoke with Luca Zaia, the president of Italy’s Veneto region, about the referendum for autonomy, as well as national and EU challenges.


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Mr President, when will the Veneto region vote for autonomy?

As the Veneto region, we go on with our objective, we asked for the election to be held on the 4th of December together with the constitutional referendum, but we didn’t get it. Now we made another request to Prime Minister Gentiloni in order to vote during the administrative election in spring. In any case, we are determined to hold our referendum in 2017.

Has the political confusion in Italy had any impact on your battle for autonomy?

The chaos we are now experiencing in Italian politics is not supporting us because uncertainty is not helping anybody. Also, our public consultation is the referendum of the Veneto region where only the inhabitants are going to decide their destiny. This is not a political referendum. The Venetians, who were always saying that we should be “rulers in our land” will now have to show us if they really want this.

How do you see the future of this referendum?

Travelling around Veneto, I feel there is a very positive energy and I think the referendum will give us nice results. Nevertheless, we can’t be too relaxed because staying home without voting is not tolerable. A referendum is strong, not only if the “yes” is going to win, but also for the number of voters.

Are you discussing autonomy with other regional movements in Europe?

We are discussing with other autonomist movements but our referendum is for autonomy while Catalonia is trying to become independent. If they succeed, we will also follow Catalonia on the independence path.

Do you see a new wave of federalism?

Yes, the European centralism is bringing lots of communities in Flanders, Scotland etc., to ask for more federalism and autonomy, this is logic and natural phenomenon that always happens. Look then at the constitutions of Italy and Germany which were promulgated in the same period but the German one was well interpreted to create a federal country while in Italy we have a centralist state.

What’s your take about the political situation in Italy under the new Gentiloni government?

The situation is dramatic because they tell us about an agreement with Libya about the migrants and after that we see again migrants arriving on our coasts. It is dramatic because they said that the public finances were fine while the spread skyrocketed to 200 points. After all, public security is not well managed and our economy in this moment of big need is not promoted and supported.

What’s your take on immigration?

In Veneto, 30,000 migrants have arrived after that 16,000 disappeared and 14,000 are in the refugee shelters. So we know already that only a minority has the right to be in Italy.

I suggest first-aid camps in northern Africa where we can make proper identifications followed by humanitarian corridors only for the “real” refugees considering the fact that 2 out of 3 are not refugees. Then the EU should be punished by taking away its peace Nobel Prize.

What do you think about the recent EU summit in Malta?

The summits are not going to solve problems. Europe is watching already five years the migrants arriving while organising these EU meetings.

To conclude, national elections are coming and there are some rumours about your candidature?

This is a nonsense story that is damaging because everything we do in Veneto is seen as functional to our electoral campaign. I have only one project which is the autonomy of the Veneto region.

About a possible centre-right coalition, we don’t have to play a card game where we have to search for the card we’re missing. I think we need first to build up a clear programme with clear solutions for the citizen’s problems where all the allies will be bounded vis-a-vis the electorate.

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