In 1866 the annexation of Venice by Italy was endorsed by a referendum of the Venetian people. A remarkable result was achieved, with just 0.01% voting against. Subsequent historians have suggested the referendum was conducted under the watchful presence of the Italian military. They argue it was just a formal endorsement of an occupation that had already taken place and was arranged by the annexing power. The annexation was possible following the victory of Prussia over Austria, as Prussia was the newly united Italy’s powerful ally. Others say that swapping Austrian rule for Italian rule may have been the lesser of the evils at the time, but Italian rule turned out to be no more enjoyable for Venetian nationalists than Austrian control.
So why isn’t the EU welcoming the decision by many in Venice to hold its own recent referendum to see if people would like an independent Venice instead of staying with Italy? Why are they ignoring the substantial majority that has voted for an independent Venice in the unofficial referendum that has just been conducted, owing to the refusal of the Italian state to allow a legal referendum under Italian law? What will they and the Italian state do if Venice now follows the results of this v0te up by not forwarding tax revenues in future to the Italian state or takes other action to flex its muscles?
It appears once again that the EU picks and chooses which referenda to allow, and as we know is also often quite choosy about the results of any popular vote. Clearly independence for the Veneto is no more permitted than for the Crimea, though it is apparently allowed for Scotland where the existing mother country is more democratic and broad minded about these matters and has agreed to a vote. Even here the EU has intervened in the referendum campaign to make it clear it wants a No vote to independence. Many countries in the EU have been allowed referenda on EU matters, though they are usually asked to vote again if the EU does not agree with the result.