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Venice holds online vote on cutting ties with Italy

ROME--Italians in Venice and its surrounding region are voting this week on whether to break away from rest of the country and form their own country, organizers told AFP on Monday.

The online vote, organized by local independence parties, is not legally binding but aims to galvanize support for a bill calling for a referendum on whether the region of Veneto should split from Italy.

The new Republic of Veneto would be inspired by the ancient Venetian republic — a rich economic, cultural and trading power which existed from the 7th century until its fall to Napoleon in 1797.

The Indipendenza Veneta party behind the bill said the separatist movement was fuelled by the government's apparent inability to stamp down on corruption, protect its citizens from a damaging recession and plug waste in the poorer south.

The region pays around 71 billion euros (US$98.5 billion) in taxes to Rome, 21 billion euros more than it receives in investment and services.

The latest polls show that — of the 3.8 million people eligible to vote in the region — around 60 percent is in favor of independence.

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