|POP. GROWTH RATE:||+0.3%|
|GDP PER CAPITA:||33,072|
Northern League for the Independence of Padania (Lega Nord per l’Indipendenza della Padania, Lega Nord)
The Northern League for the Independence of Padania (Lega Nord per l’Indipendenza della Padania, or in short: “Lega Nord”) was a crucial coalition partner for the People of Freedom Party (Il Popolo della Liberta) in Silvio Berlusconi's last government between 2008 and 2011. The party galvanized political support in the early 1990s through its vocal denunciation of corruption scandals in Rome. While Lega Nord’s most fundamental aim is the independence — or at least increased autonomy — of northern Italy, its initially single-issue regionalist agenda has expanded to include a broader array of political objectives. While it initially favored same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana, over the past decade it has moved right on social issues and now opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, stem cell research and euthanasia. It combines social conservatism with moderate economic libertarianism, opposing government intervention in the free market and advocating generally for low taxes, especially for private citizens and small businesses. In the area of immigration, Lega Nord is widely criticized in Italy for being racist and xenophobic, but it insists that these perceptions rest on a misunderstanding of its tough-on-crime policies. The party has also incurred the ire of human rights organizations when its leader, Umberto Bossi suggested that the Italian navy fire on all boats with illegal immigrants heading for the Italian coast. Despite its reputation, Lega Nord has persistently rejected being defined as anti-minority, vehemently attacking an article in 1992 putting it in the same league as Marine le Pen’s Front National and the Austrian Freedom Party. The party is eager to remind Italians that the first black mayor in Italy is a member of Lega Nord, and that one of its coordinators is a Muslim-raised Tunisian immigrant.
The LN takes an ambivalent position on the European Union. On the one hand, it rejects the “European super-state”, promotes an opening to Russia and a “Europe of the Regions”, and on the other it supports the direct election of the President of the European Commission, the expansion of EP competences and the consolidation of a political, economic, bank and fiscal union. In the 2013 national elections, the party came in 6th place with 4.1% of the votes. With that support, the party did not repeat its 10.2% EP election result achieved in 2009, however achieved a fairly high score of 6.15% in 2014, thanks to its campaign centered on issues similar to that of the Front National, namely immigration and economic related issues. Its unmistakably Eurosceptic rivals, far-right Forza Nuova and leftist/populist Movimento 5 Stelle have made strong gains and left the party far behind in the EP race. Despite this, the Lega Nord was able to join the new “Europe of Nations and Freedoms” alliance in the EP, led by Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders.
Lega Nord on the Internet:
- Jamie Bartlett et al.: “The New Face of Digital Populism.” Demos: London 2011, p. 106-107. Available online at http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Demos_OSIPOP_Book-web_03.pdf?1320601634
- Political Capital
Tricolour Flame (Movimento Sociale Fiamma Tricolore, MS-FT)
MS-FT is a Eurosceptic and xenophobe movement. Its thinking is characterized by a radical criticism of social, economic, cultural and political systems and their elites, and is guided by the ideology of the Fascist corporative state and nostalgia for its founder, Benito Mussolini. The party combines a traditional, right-wing paternalistic philosophy with the Fascist state's ethnicity-based nation cult, laced with ostensibly socialistic, right-wing populist, anti-capitalist and social demagogy proclaiming the equality of all the peoples constituting the nation. On Italy’s far-right political spectrum the party stands closest to RSI (Italian Social Republic), although it is closely tied to the Italian Skinhead movement as well. MS-FT's two prominent members are: Pietro Puschiavo, founding member of the Veneto Skinhead Front established in 1985, and Maurizio Boccacci, the former leader of the Rome-based, far-right and skinhead-inspired Western Political Movement. In the 2004 EP elections, the party with a strong following particularly in the South, gained enough votes to send its chairman to the European Parliament. However, in 2009, even as the organization's popularity grew from 0.7 to 0.8%, Romagnoli lost his seat in the EP. At the most recent 2013 general elections the party received 0.13% of the votes. The party rejects the European Union and calls for Italy's withdrawal from the euro zone. Instead of a Union dominated by technocrats and creditors, it advocates the establishment of a “Europe of Nations” and rejects serving US interests. In February 2014 it was in third position (with 22.4%), behind the leftist Eurosceptic party, the Movimento 5 Stelle (with 24.9%).
MS-FT on the Internet:
- Political Capital
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