Venice votes on whether to secede from Italy
Two-thirds of Venice's voters are in favour of independence from Italy, recent polls suggest
AN ONLINE referendum is being held in Venice this week on whether the city and its surrounding region should separate from Italy.
Over two-thirds of the area's four million voters favour independence, according to recent polls.
The non-binding referendum was organised by local politicians and activists who want to break from Rome, the BBC reports. Prior to its conquest by Napoleon in 1797, Venice was an autonomous power for more than 1,000 years.
Campaigners have been inspired by Scotland's vote on independence, the Daily Telegraph says. Analysts say that those in favour of separation hope to distance themselves from the more profligate south of the country.
"If there is a majority yes vote, we have scholars drawing up a declaration of independence and there are businesses in the region who say they will begin paying taxes to local authorities instead of to Rome," Lodovico Pizzati, the spokesman for the independence movement, told the Telegraph.
Electors in the historic cities of Treviso, Vicenza and Verona will vote on whether to become an entirely independent state known as the "Republic of Veneto".
Other countries within the EU have regions of their own that favour secession. Spain has separatist movements in the Basque region in the country's north, and Catalonia in the east.
Like several other regions in Italy, Venice's ties to Rome are comparatively recent. After the Napoleonic occupation, Venice was ruled by the Austrian empire for 60 years. It finally became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.
Voting will continue until Friday.