What next for independence movements in Europe?

Eve Hepburn in openDemocracy:

10411733_10152275143571426_938398523678448511_n[1]What should the EU do? At the moment, the official position is to keep its head down and say nothing about the internal affairs of one of its valued member-states. But will this strategy work when more independence referendums – official or unofficial – add more cracks in the sovereignty of the EU’s currency member-states?

For Scotland and Catalonia are not the only cases of independence aspirations in the EU. The next country to watch, without a doubt, is Italy, whereby a poll released last month by Demos showed that 31% of Italians wanted their region to become independent, a figure that was significantly higher in several autonomist regions.

The highest was Veneto, a wealthy northern region of Italy with a strong identity, where 53% of survey participants preferred secession. This reflects the success of the nationalist parties in Veneto – most notably the governing Liga Veneta-Lega Nord (LV-LN) – in agitating for independence. The regional assembly passed a bill in June this year to hold a referendum on independence, and President of the Region Luca Zaia of the LNV promised that he would see this through.

These events follow an unofficial referendum in Veneto earlier this year in March, supported by several nationalist parties, whereby 89% of participants voted to leave Italy. While the legitimacy of the poll is questionable (as many Latin Americans of Venetian descent voted), another surveyby La Repubblica has confirmed the Demos poll, showing that about 55% of Venetians want independence. And if and when the plebiscite is held, given these high numbers in favour of secession, there may be a greater possibility of success than in Catalonia or Scotland. However, everything will ultimately down to the Italian Constitutional Court which, like its Spanish counterpart, views consultative referenda on the fragmentation of the Italian state as illegal.

An unofficial referendum was also held in the German-speaking province of South Tyrol in 2013, which lies on the northern periphery of Italy and which was previously annexed from Austria. Here, over 90% of participants expressed their support for self-determination, and the pro-independence Sud-Tiroler Freiheit went on to win its highest share of the vote in the subsequent regional elections. The issue of secession from Italy is unlikely to go away, not least because it is the ultimate goal of the South Tyrol People’s Party, which has ruled the province throughout the post-war period.

Read the original article here.