Alscian sovereignty referendum, 1939

Alscian sovereignty referendum, 1939
Should Alscia join the Free Territories or become an independent state in association with Cacerta?
LocationAlscia
Date18–19 February 1939
Results
Join the Free Territories
72.3%
Independent state in association
27.7%

The Alscian sovereignty referendum (Italian: Referendum sull'avvenire dell'Alscia del 1939) was held on 18–19 February 1939. Concluding the process of dissolution of the Cacertian Empire, it asked voters whether Alscia would join the Free Territories or become an independent state in personal union with Cacerta.

The result was an overwhelming vote to join the Free Territories. The option carried most of Alscia's comuni apart from northern ones, which voted for personal union. Those comuni remained part of Cacerta as Molise.

Background

The "hurried province" played a complex and sometimes contradictory role in the dissolution of the Cacertian Empire. The Donatella Rossetti government was strongly supportive of the Empire and holding referendums to achieve Rosalia I's reform and strengthening goals. When her proposals were submitted to referendum, Alscian voters generally provided some of the strongest support for them.

On the other hand, Donatella had infamously bad relations with the Ultranationalist Prime Ministers of the time. The Ultranationalists' ambitions for greater centralisation were openly defied by Alscia acting as if it was already an equal partner in a union. Further animosity was caused by Donatella stretching the limits of the province's autonomy and engaging in the Alscian Border War.

By the late 1930s, reform efforts had stalled and there was increasing agitation for independence. Rosalia resisted dissolution until near the end, when she concluded holding together the Empire was unworkable and an orderly separation was the least damaging option. Defying the Ultranationalists' outrage, she set a deadline of 1 March 1939 to dissolve the Empire and reorganise Cacerta as a Kingdom.

By this time, the Liberation War had begun and the Free Territories had been proclaimed. Owing to Alscia's central role in anti-Xevdenite agitation and providing a refuge for radicals, public opinion came to favour joining the Free Territories. The Alscian government established contacts with the Free Territories and engaged in early discussions regarding the province's future.

Preparations for reorganisation and the complexity of negotiations slowed down the process of Alscia's departure. In January 1939, it remained the last part of the Empire, all others having already voted for and achieved independence.

Donatella announced the final referendum plans on 13 January. The referendum would be held over the weekend of 18–19 February to maximise turnout. The question posed would be whether Alscia would join the Free Territories, or become an independent state "in association with Cacerta". The latter would formalise the status Alscia already claimed in its constitution, but which had been subject to constructive ambiguity before.

Although Donatella pragmatically supported joining the Free Territories as the most popular option, she insisted on the personal union as an alternative in the hope that it would provide stability and reassurance to Alscians, many of whom saw Cacerta as their protector against the threat of Xevden.

Campaign

The campaign was largely uneventful, and a victory for joining the Free Territories was already expected. Opinion polls showed it enjoyed majority support. Donatella's government supported it, and took measures to maximise turnout.

The PdL advocated independence and personal union. Although it faced an uphill struggle and privately admitted it had no chance, its stance reinforced public respect for party leader Beatrice Albini.

To some surprise, Risveglio Nazionale supported independence and personal union.

Voting took place separately in Alscia's TACS, to maintain the legal fiction underlying Alscian occupation.

Result

Out of Alscia's 43 comuni, 39 voted to join the Free Territories, and 4 voted for independence in personal union with Cacerta.
  Free Territories
  Independence/personal union
Choice Votes %
Yes check.svg Join the Free Territories 880.447 72,3%
X mark.svg Independent state in association 337.322 27,7%
Valid votes 1.217.769 100%
Turnout 1.219.708 97,2%

The referendum achieved the highest turnout in Alscian history, with 97,2% of voters participating.

Voters chose to join the Free Territories by a landslide: the option won 72,3% of the vote and carried 39 out of 43 comuni.

The largest cities voted overwhelmingly for the Free Territories, providing much of its lopsided victory margins. Some polling stations in Etra literally recorded no votes for independence. The Free Territories option also carried smaller cities and rural comuni by more modest margins.

Somewhat surprisingly, Castiglioni had the closest result, voting to join the Free Territories by 50,3% to 49,7%.

Only the four comuni in northern Alscia voted for independence, by margins of 50–60% rather than the 60–70% common for the Free Territories. Castelrosso and Villanova were the largest cities to vote against joining the Free Territories.

The TACS' separate local vote saw more overwhelming support for joining the Free Territories, with 96% voting in favour.

Aftermath

Following the official certification of results, Donatella announced that the government would respect the result, and only comuni that voted to join the Free Territories would do so. This was made easier by the broadly contiguous nature of the Free Territories/independence vote.

Since the majority of comuni had voted to join the Free Territories, having the remainder form an independent state was considered impractical. After consultation with local authorities, Rosalia gave official assent to the partition plan, and independence-voting comuni would instead remain part of Cacerta, as Molise.

Preparations for the transition began immediately afterwards. Cacertian troops stationed in Alscia were instead relocated to Molise. The Alscian government worked to assist and expedite voluntary population transfers in the run-up to 1 March. There was broad public acceptance of the principle that those who had voted one way should not be expected to remain in areas that voted the other.

Alscia officially joined the Free Territories, and was dissolved in the process, in a formal ceremony held in Etra on 1 March 1939. Attendees included the Donatella Rossetti government, Rosalia, Darnan Cyras on behalf of the Free Territories, and Chancellor of Delkora Sofia Westergaard. Donatella delivered a farewell speech, which ended with:

"I declare the government of Alscia is completely dissolved at all levels. I urge everyone to carry on and do their best to make sure the transition is swift and smooth."

The flags of Alscia and Cacerta were lowered as a band played "I Segreti del Mare", symbolising the end of Cacertian rule. The Free Territories' black flag was raised afterwards, and Darnan made a brief speech praising the democratic exercise of the referendum and expressing optimism that Alscia's adherence would strengthen the Free Territories.