20:17 GMT +319 August 2019
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    Italy's Salvini Sides With Lega, Supports Autonomy for Lombardy, Veneto

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Italy's Lega party will "not take no for an answer" regarding the issue of autonomy for Lombardy and Veneto, Matteo Salvini, the Italian deputy prime minister and the Lega leader, announced on Monday.

    "We won't take a no on autonomy as is happening … The government depends on the autonomy reform," Salvini said, quoted by ANSA news agency.

    Salvini’s statement comes after an exchange in the Corriere della Sera newspaper between Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the governors of Veneto and Lombardy, Luca Zaia and Attilio Fontana, both Lega members, on the issue. Conte called the initiative unconstitutional, while Fontana and Zaia declared that they would not settle for a "farcical reform."

    In 2017, the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto had referendums in which overwhelming majorities backed the decision to demand greater autonomy. Despite having no legal power, the referendums are viewed by supporters as something that has legitimized their positions.

    The issue is a fraught one since the provinces in question are among the richest in the country. The poorer southern regions have accused Lombardy and Veneto of wanting autonomy in order to pay fewer taxes to the central Italian government, most of which goes to support the south of Italy.

    Tags:
    Veneto, Lombardy, autonomy, Lega Party, Matteo Salvini, Italy
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