Italy's First Northern League?

Edward Coleman weighs up Modern Italy's Northern League against its medieval Lombard inspiration.

In the campaign for the Italian elections in April of this year much was made of supposed 'threats to the stability of the state' from various quarters. The Centre-Left 'OIive Tree' coalition (the eventual victors) evoked the spectre of Fascism in the ranks of their opponents (Silvio Berlusconi and his allies), whilst the Centre-Right highlighted the influence of the refounded Communist Party on the formation of the new government. However, events since the election have proved that the real threat to the stability, indeed, to the unity of the Italian state, came not from ex- Fascists or ex-Communists but from the secessionist Northern League.

The Northern League – originally the Lombard League before it was expanded to include like-minded organisations from all regions of northern Italy – began as a protest movement against the corrupt party political system, the centralisation of state bureaucracy in Rome, and above all, taxation. In the opinion of the League's supporters, the hard-working, law-abiding population of the North conscientiously paid their taxes only to see them squandered on the unproductive and crime-ridden South.

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