Two Italian regions vote overwhelmingly for greater autonomy

The Lombardy region includes the city of Milan.

Rome (CNN)While the rest of the world has its eyes on the outcome of Catalonia's tussle for independence from Spain, two of Italy's most prosperous regions voted overwhelmingly in favor of greater autonomy from Rome in non-binding referendums on Sunday.

More than 95% of voters who cast ballots in Veneto and Lombardy -- two northern regions which account for around 30% of Italy's GDP between them -- opted to vote "yes" to more autonomy, according to officials in both regions.
Turnout was more than 57% in Veneto, the region's spokesperson told CNN. In Lombardy, turnout was about 39%, that region's spokesperson said.
    The referendums were called by the two regions' governors, both of whom are part of the right-wing Northern League -- a party that once favored secession -- and were aimed at securing further powers over spending, immigration, education and healthcare.
    Five regions in Italy already boast autonomous powers, including Sardinia and Sicily, as well as Veneto's neighbor, Friuli-Venezia.
    Lombardy includes the city of Milan, and Veneto has Venice as its capital.
    A woman in Milan looks at a poster explaining how to vote in Sunday's referendum.

    What lead to the votes?

    The votes were called by the two regional leaders, Roberto Maroni of Lombardy and Luca Zaia of Veneto. The referendum is non-binding but local leaders believe it will give them a mandate to negotiate with Rome for further powers.
    "We aim to have enough power to break the resistance of the government," Maroni told CNN before Sunday's ballots. "We want to manage the territory, manage the areas that handle migratory flows."
    "For us, the most important thing is obtaining resources," he added.
    Unlike the independence referendum in Catalonia, which was declared illegal by the Spanish government, the Italian constitution allows for these types of votes to be held.
    In a first for Italy, voting in Lombardy was carried out on tablet computers via an e-voting app, while Veneto retained more traditional methods.

    Why are the votes important?

    Politicians backing the referendums believe the successful economies of their region should not be used to fund poorer areas in the south of Italy.