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Veneto’s autonomy referendum will be ‘first step’ towards independence — council member

October 23, 15:58 UTC+3 ROME

A similar referendum was also held on October 22 in the neighboring Lombardia, where 95% of citizens voted in favor of the autonomy

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ROME, October 23. /TASS/. The autonomy referendum in Veneto, backed by 98% out of more than 2 million voters, has generated euphoria in Italy’s northeastern region, a member of the regional council and one of supporters of the autonomy project, Luciano Sandona, told TASS.

"I have never seen this euphoria before. Finally, people started to believe that some changes can really occur. In some provinces, the voter turnout exceeded 70%, and the overall turnout figure would have been at least 10% higher if Veneto’s citizens could vote while abroad," Sandona said.

The politician stressed that Veneto won’t be another "Catalonia." "We have had a true democratic process, in line with the law. You will see that in 10 years we will move closer to independence. This is only the first step," he said.

According to Sandona, Rome will be worse than Madrid during the negotiations, which regional authorities should launch with the government as envisaged by the constitution.

Veneto Governor Luca Zaia is expected to submit a bill on autonomy to the regional council on Monday, and later the document will be sent to Rome for consideration. The governor told TASS that Veneto would also demand keeping 9/10 of tax levies. The issue on fiscal autonomy is expected to be a major bone of contention with the central government.

In comments that the talks on autonomy may be launched with the government without any referendum, the regional authorities said now they have an important leverage, namely a broad popular consensus.

A similar referendum was also held on Sunday in the neighboring Lombardia, where 95% of citizens voted in favor of the autonomy. The voter turnout there hardly exceeded 40%, despite the simplified procedure of e-voting, which took place in Italy for the first time.

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