If At First You Do Not Secede Try, Try Again

It isn’t just Crimea from Ukraine.

Last night BBC reported that Venetians are voting on whether or not to secede from Italy.

Recent opinion polls suggest that two-thirds of the four million electorate favour splitting from Rome, but the vote will not be legally binding.

The poll was organised by local activists and parties, who want a future state called Republic of Veneto.

This would be reminiscent of the sovereign Venetian republic that existed for more than 1,000 years.

A focal point for culture, architecture and trade, Venice lost its independence to Napoleon in 1797.

Online voting is due to continue until Friday.

The vote received very little coverage in Italy’s national media but the organisers said they expected as many as two million people to take part.

The BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome says the vote reflects a growing separatist mood in parts of Europe, such as Spain’s Catalonia region and Scotland, which votes on whether to become independent in September.

Moves towards independence often evoke more sympathy in wealthy northern Italy, where many resent what they see as the poorer south’s waste and corruption.

I noticed that, last night, Drudge included a story about Crimea’s vote to break away from Ukraine with a story about the vote in Venetia as well as stories about Scotland and Quebec. While Venice’s referendum is only a step to move toward independence, Scotland has a real vote that would sever the country from the rest of the United Kingdom. People are trying to figure out what to do about the elections that are taking place only ten months before the vote over secession. If Scotland votes to secede, that decision will change the face of UK politics because the Scottish delegates will no longer be members of Parliament.

I think Drudge should have included a story about Catalonia too, especially since one of the international observers of Crimea’s vote to secede was “a Spanish deputy supporting Catalan independence” from Spain. Catalonia has been struggling to get the same opportunity to leave Spain that Scotland is getting to secede from the UK.

In my opinion, no matter what conservatives think of the wisdom of joining Russia, we should be strong defenders of the right of peoples to secede. There are very few ways to limit the growth of big government, but recognizing the right of people to leave the larger body politic and be their own government provides a check on the ambitions of centralists.

We see movements in the U.S. in both New York and California to break up those states into two or more entities. It makes sense. If government is getting too big then dividing it will leave you with smaller governments.

So perhaps, if conservatives disagree with Crimea’s pro-Russia vote, they can see that setting a precedent for secession is a silver lining.