Skip to comments.Europe’s Secessionist Movements: Venice to Edinburgh want to break free of national governments
Posted on 04/28/2014 8:26:01 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Warsaw, Poland The debt crisis and years of barely perceptible economic growth are fueling independence movements in some regions of Europe.
On September 18, Scotland will vote on becoming independent from the United Kingdom. If a majority approves, the U.K. would lose a full 10 percent of its population and a third of its landmass. Polls show that backers of independence are trailing but gaining; they now have more than 40 percent of the vote.
Last month, Venice and its surrounding areas held a non-binding online referendum on independence from Italy. Of the Veneto regions 5 million people, more than 2 million cast ballots, and an astonishing 89 percent supported secession. Even if some of the votes cast were duplicates (something security precautions were erected to prevent), the result clearly shows an alienated and angry electorate. The regional government might soon announce a more formal referendum to be held at polling places.
Catalonia, the region that includes Barcelona and generates one-fifth of Spains economic activity, is planning to hold a regional referendum on November 9 for independence. The national government in Madrid has refused to grant permission for the referendum and has persuaded the European Union to declare that a new state of Catalonia couldnt become an EU member.
Here in Poland, the Silesian Autonomy Movement is gaining strength in its efforts to forge a separate political identity for the old industrial and mining region east of Krakow. In the last local elections in 2010, the group won 9 percent of the vote, doubling its previous showing.
These new secessionist movements in Europe arent anti-European or xenophobic (as many such efforts have been in the past). At the same time that nine out of ten Veneto voters supported independence, majorities also backed staying in the European Union and NATO, and keeping the euro as currency (although the last question carried with only 51 percent of the vote).
The Scottish National Party, which already runs an elected majority government with a great deal of autonomy, has said that an independent Scotland should automatically become an EU member since it would be seceding from an existing EU state. But the European Commission president, speaking to the BBC, said it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible for an independent Scotland to join the European Union because all 28 EU member states would have to agree. Britain has also warned that an independent Scotland would be unable to keep the pound sterling as its currency, though this stand might be part of a bully and bluster campaign to defeat the independence movement by sowing uncertainty.
Catalonias regional economy minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, has described backers of independence as coming from all sides of the political spectrum and also as strongly pro-European. We are a government of moderates centrist and business-friendly, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal this month. He explained the desire for independence as a reaction to the recent dramatic reversals in the extent of self-government that Catalonia once enjoyed in areas ranging from health care to education to public administration.
In Venice, the resentment against the national government in Rome is intense and long-standing. Italys regions have few legislative powers of their own, and a 2006 attempt to give them more autonomy failed. Italys northern regions make huge transgers of wealth to what they see as the corrupt and dysfunctional regions of southern Italy. Analysts at the Italian Central Bank believe that Veneto and other northern regions get back only five dollars in transfers from the Rome government for every seven dollars they send to it. You could eliminate all income taxes in all the northern regions if they didnt have to send all that money to the South, Alberto Mingardi, president of the Milan-based Bruno Leoni Institute, told me.
Luca Zaia, the president of the Veneto region, acknowledges that the Rome government isnt about to grant the region a formal vote on independence. But he believes that making appeals on the basis of self-determination to the European Court of Justice and the United Nations can ratchet up pressure on the national government. Venice was an independent republic for centuries until Napoleon conquered it in 1797. Its trading merchants, symbolized by the explorer Marco Polo (12541324), traveled the globe and brought back amazing riches, sustaining a culture that gave the world composers such as Antonio Vivaldi, writers like Giacomo Casanova, and painters such as Titian.
Insisting that old, fixed boundaries of nation-states remain in place forever strikes many modern European voters as against the spirit of the EU. If the EU is really a common framework of rules for all its citizens, it should be a proper setting for old national boundaries, which were often the result of conquest, to be discussed and redefined, the Bruno Leoni Institutes Antonio Martino has argued.
Its safe to say that national governments wont agree that the EU membership can grow through the internal enlargement of independent countries. But the restless electorates in some regions may force the national governments to grant more flexibility and freedom to grow. Catalan business owners chafe under Spains total effective corporate tax rate of 58.6 percent of profits, a clear barrier to economic growth. Andrea Soranzo, a clothing-store owner in Venice, told USA Today that he hopes the local revolt will result in a little more autonomy and a little more pride in our city. In Scotland, the push for independence spurred British prime minister David Cameron last Friday to say that it is right that the Scottish Parliament should win more powers, specifically to set Scotlands tax policy if Scots reject independence.
Drives for secession in the United States have had an obvious bad odor ever since the Civil War, but in Europe they are looking more and more like the flavor of the times.
John Fund is national-affairs columnist at National Review Online.
Governments could turn the tide but they won’t.
I wish we in Louisiana would secede from the USSA , the socialist states of America.
If Texas secedes I’ll move there
Yowsa..go back to the Barony’s, Duchy’s, and Kingdoms that were Europe prior to WWI and do a RESET ala Hillary and watch the world go up in nuclear flames once again. WTG! There is little or no intelligent life on the third rock from the sun.
Spain, Italy, and Britain would likely collude to block the breakaway regions from European Union membership.
Peaceful secession is a great solution to bad government.
Which is why it’s usually illegal. The only exception is when the would-be seceders have a high quotient of useless parasites.
Hint: if the people you are seceding from are happy to see you go, there’s something you’re missing.
In “Imperial Earth”, an engineer-administrator clone returns to Earth and gets to listen to a big debate by someone who is trying to re-unite the United States of American for the 500th anniversary of its founding.
Then someone says it really doesn’t matter, because they all pay their world government taxes.
Dissolution will follow national bankruptcy. Not before.
Texas going it alone would be subject to a brutal occupation far harsher than anything the US has done in living memory.
At the end of the day only three things hold large polities together:
1) Common culture
2) mutual prosperity
3) brute force
The Washington government has resorted to all three at one time or another.
At this point common culture is gone, by design. Mutual prosperity still functions at an acceptable level, and brute force backs the Washington regime if needed, although we saw some threads pop at Bunkerville recently. Sovereign bankruptcy would erase the economic benefit, and brute force requires solvency for the military or its analogs to leave barracks and beat people back into submission.
The former Soviet Union was designed to be held together no matter what happened, but bankruptcy saw it fragment faster than anyone would have believed.
More signs of balkanization—this happens when Governments are weak or has lost the support of their people. This is about to change as Europe turns Right. A group of Strong Men will once again dominate Europe. It will be here in 4 more years—I believe. Good for workers (there will be work)—Good for Nationalists (their will be national patriotism) Bad for Islamic people (they will be tossed out and put down). Bad for pirates, tin pot dictators, and Socialists—(all will be put on notice as out of favor).