Italy: Northern League doubles support

Italy: Northern League doubles support

The Northern League, an anti immigration party, which has now become pivotal in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling coalition, has seen it's support more than double in the last five years.

Led by firebrand Umberto Bossi, who once called for the Italian navy to shell boats carrying illegal immigrants towards the country, his victory mirrors those recently by far right parties in Hungary, Holland and France.

In the last regional elections held in 2005 the League secured just 5.7 per cent of the vote but in subsequent polls they have seen their popularity grow and this time it was 12.7 per cent.

James Walston, a political commentator at the American University of Rome, said: "The League has done very well and they will be flexing their muscles for the remaining three years of government.

"They will push for further devolution and immigration and race will also be on top of their agenda and these two are issues which are of concern to many Italians.

"The League is very well organised and they have succeeded in taking a lot of the working class vote from the Communists and Democratic Left and they also appear to have taken votes from Berlusconi's own party."


After the election results yesterday, the Corriere Della Sera asked readers on its website why the League had done so well and one wrote: "Because it is the only concrete and viable party currently in Italian politics. It has concrete objectives and good internal party discipline."

The League is now a key figure in Berlusconi's coalition and as a result its members have been given key cabinet posts including Roberto Maroni as Interior Minister.

Mr Bossi described the League's performance as a 'tsunami' but assured his government partners in Rome that the balance of power in the coalition would not change and said the result of the regional vote could only give momentum to federalist reforms.

The League's advance appeared to be at the expense of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party which saw its share of the vote fall to 26.7 per cent from 35.3 per cent in the European elections, 37.4 per cent in the general elections and 29.3 per cent in the 2005 regional vote.

The League has campaigned against the building of mosques and are also pressing for legislation on the wearing of burkas.


Source: Daily Telegraph (English)

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