The Veronese Gazette
Verona Joins the Union
After many years of flirting with the idea, Verona has decided to join the European Union. The move represents a huge step in the nation's history as Verona has not always seen eye to eye diplomatically or politically with the rest of the world and the European region in general.
The vote to join the European Union was held on March 14th and was decided by popular referendum. An overwhelming 72% majority of the Veronese people voted for joining the European Union on the back of a strong yes campaign that emphasized expanding the nation's horizons and the rest of the world's horizons through this relationship.
The No Campaign, tried to rally people around the fact that Europe was far more right-leaning in its political ideology than Verona and that this could put the nation's own more socialist leaning policies in jeopardy as well as ruin the identity of Verona itself. The yes campaign deftly countered that this was an opportunity to spread Verona's social and political views and change Europe for the better. It was also argued that Verona and all humans had the moral obligation to try and make the better place through itheir advocacy.
For better or worse, Verona is now part of the European Union. As for what is next in this journey, we'll just have to wait and see.
**Scandal: Leading Councillor Candidate Accused of Tax Fraud **
Heading into the final days of the race to decide who will be Verona?s first European Councilor, a major scandal may change the landscape. Carlo Vezzini, the man leading the latest opinion polls 49% - 47% over his opponent Angelo Costa, has been accused of possible tax fraud by the Veronese Tax Commission.
The VTC is scheduled to open a broad investigation of Vezzini?s case next week. Sources contacted the Veronese Gazette yesterday with documents showing that Vezzini had under reported his income from his government job and his other ventures during his time as Foreign Minister and that he inappropriately used government funds to pay for personal items.
This scandal comes as a big shock to many, as Minister Vezzini was a very popular figure in Veronese politics and was endorsed publically in the Councilor race by the Prime Minister. Now it appears as though the looming investigation could put a nail in the coffin of his chances to win the election, not to mention he faces years of imprisonment if charged and convicted of tax fraud. Vezzini declined to comment about the accusations.
Angelo Costa, the other aspiring European Councilor, has run a hard campaign despite never holding political office before. Costa, however, was a prominent figure in the Yes campaign for joining the European Union and during that time was able to make contacts and build a strong ground game to help his campaign gather supporters throughout Verona.
It remains to be seen how this will all affect the Councilor race, but the people will have the chance to be heard soon at the polls.
Angelo Costa will be First European Councillor
The votes are in and the people have spoken: Angelo Costa will be Verona's first European Councillor. Costa was announced the winner late last night after he received 53% of the popular vote to vault over the race's long time leader, Carlo Vezzini, who received only 45% of the vote.
Though usually uncommon, there was a sizable shift in the vote in comparison with recent opinion polls, although this could likely be explained by the recent scandal surrounding Minister Vezzini. The tax fraud accusations cast their shadow over the final days of the race and can likely be held responsible for his loss. They may have a much larger impact on his political future still. There are whispers in government circles that the Prime Minister has been distancing himself from Vezzini in preparation for removing him from his cabinet. It was only a few months ago that Vezzini was endorsed by the prime minister in the Councilor race.
Even amidst the controversy his opponent went through, Costa is pleased with his victory. "Hey, I worked hard on this campaign," he said to the Gazette, "I knocked on a lot of doors, held a lot of rallies, met and talked to a lot of great people, and I like to think that I didn't just win because the Foreign Minister was hit with a scandal. I think people responded well to what I had to say and with my vision for introducing Verona to the European stage and hopefully accomplishing some great things for Verona and all of the European Union."
It will be interesting to see what Councilor Costa has in store, he was one of the people that lead the charge for Verona to join the European Union and now he will be able to steer the nation's interactions with the region. The significance of being the first European Councilor of Verona is not lost on Mr. Costa and he plans on "setting a high standard for anyone who aspires to the job in the future". The Veronese people can be sure that Costa is passionate about Europe and finding Verona's place in it.
Foreign Minister Vezzini Sacked
At a press conference today, Prime Minister Marconi announced that Foreign Minister Vezzini "has been relieved of his duties". It's been a roller coaster week for Mr. Vezzini- he's gone from European Councilor frontrunner to out of a job- due to the alleged tax fraud he has committed. The whole episode has been a blight on the Prime Minister's record as he and Vezzini have been good friends and Marconi gave Vezzini his endorsement in the European Councillor race. A move had to be made by the Prime Minister or the scandal could end up spilling over into his approval ratings and his own mandate for leading the country.
"When it comes down to it, the people want to know that the leaders of their government are trustworthy, law-abiding citizens. It became increasingly clear that people were losing faith in the Foreign Minister and I just felt he could no longer be an effective voice for the government," the Prime Minister said.
The investigation into the allegations against Mr. Vezzini are scheduled to continue and could result in large penalties and jail time for him.
Also at the press conference, Minister Marconi named his replacement for Vezzini: Elda Spinelli. Spinelli has long been part of Verona's diplomatic corps and has served as a Deputy Foreign minister for the last four years. She will bring years of experience to the position and is quite possibly the best choice to fill in given the short notice.
Spinelli announces European 'Blitz'
In her first action as Foreign Minister, today Elda Spinelli announced her intentions to begin an expansive European outreach program on behalf of Verona. At a press conference today she explained this would be done with a "two-pronged approach".
"The first step will be boosting our embassies at home and abroad. In order to connect with the European Union more effectively we must invite them into our homeland to see what we have to offer and we must likewise visit them at their homes," Minister Spinelli said.
The second prong of the new program, will be diplomatic visits with nations across Europe. Although, Spinelli was coy about which nations the Veronese administration would be visiting, the list will likely be expansive.
While some pundits are calling this plan overly ambitious due to the timing of Spinelli's appointment and the recency with which Verona has joined the European Union, Spinelli's program has the full support of the Prime Minister's administration. As Minister Spinelli discussed at her press conference, "We voted to join the European Union so why wait? We've already made the leap, now it's time to increase our bonds with our new partners and try to put our stamp on the Union to make it work for us and for everyone."