The Veneto Regional Council on December 6 approved legislation that defines the Veneto region inhabitants as national minority paving the wait for a full recognition of the Venetian language also inside the regional school system.

The 116 Regional law was approved with 27 votes in favour (Northern League, Zaia’s List and three members of the Tosi’s list), 16 against ( Democratic Party, Five Stars Movement, Moretti’s list and a member of Tosi’s list) and five abstentions (Forza Italia and Fratelli d’Italia).

The new law was proposed by four municipal councils: Resana, Grantorto, Segusino e Santa Lucia di Piave. It will apply in Veneto the European convention on the protection of national minorities ratified by Italy in 1997.

Following the result of the constitutional referendum, this is another signal that Veneto, which had voted massively against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s reform that aimed to cut a lot of regional competence, does not want to give up its regional prerogatives but to increase them.

Even if various legal experts are underlining that the 116 law will be declared unconstitutional, the political act could be considered the biggest signal towards a “possible” exit referendum. On this autonomist wave, Regional President Luca Zaia said he could organise one already in the first semester 2017.

Thanks to this new legislative act, everyone will be able free to become part of this minority where the Venetian Language will have a pivotal role in schools, but also in the public administration.

The idea from the legislator stems from the example of the nearby autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano that are enjoying lots of practical and financial benefits. A few years ago, some Veneto politicians proposed, with a polemic initiative, to annex Veneto region to the Trentino-Alto Adige. After this, various Veneto municipalities voted in referendums to “leave” Veneto for Trentino highlighting the outrage against old privileges that are completely out of date.

In an exclusive interview with New Europe, the promoter of the law, Northern League Regional MP Riccardo Barbesan, said: “At the moment, we are pushing on the cultural side more than the linguistic because there would be another convention about linguistic minorities. We want to follow the example of the German population living in the province of Bolzano. Our aim is to safeguard the Venetian minority asking to the central state to protect our peculiarities.

“We want to give the possibility to the citizens who are declaring themselves part of the national minority as Venetian,” he added. “We recognise the central state and as a minority, we just ask for a safeguard and valorisation like the Germans in Alto-Adige. About the Venetian language in the public administration, during my job in the court of justice, I saw many times cases where the interpreter was translating the indicted declarations to a non-Venetian-speaking judge coming, for example, from the south of Italy.

“This is not something new but I hope that in the future in order to save some money of the interpreter, we will have fixed quotas of Venetian-speaking magistrates.”

Asked about the introduction of the Venetian language in the region’s schools, Barbesan said: “We are not going to oblige anybody to follow the language courses. We will give the possibility to the students inscribed to the Venetian minority, to follow the classes. Then this is only the beginning of the process, but I noticed that if the others are doing that there is no problem. Since we took this initiative, we were always opposed and ridiculed also by the supposed free press who was able only to produce false news about this law”.