Wednesday, 13 January 2010

LEGA NORD - ITALY - NORTHERN LEAGUE

LEGA NORD - ITALY - NORTHERN LEAGUE

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Much additional information can be found under individual names and dates located in the right Side Bar - where 15-Jan-2010 will prove very fruitful

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Ideology

The party's ideology is a combination of political federalism, fiscal federalism and regionalism, supporting the traditional culture of Northern Italy. The historical goal of the party is to transform Italy into a federal state, letting Padania to keep more tax revenues collected there under a regime of fiscal federalism. Thus, through Lega Nord, federalism has become an important political issue in the country since the 1990s. This is the main difference between the League and other European regionalist parties, which focus on special rights for their own regions[26][27][28] (see the Basque Nationalist Party, the Republican Left of Catalonia, Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party, the Vlaams Belang, or the South Tyrolean People's Party[29]).
Sometimes it seemed possible that the League might also unite with similar leagues in Central and Southern Italy, but this did not succeed. The party continues to dialogue with regionalist parties throughout Italy, including the Valdotanian Union, the South Tyrolean People's Party, the Trentino Tyrolean Autonomist Party, the Movement for Autonomy and the Sardinian Action Party, and it always had some figures from the South in its parliamentary ranks. Notably, Angela Maraventano, Deputy-Mayor of Lampedusa, is a senator of Lega Nord. Although it is no more a member of the European Free Alliance, the parties has ties with many regionalist parties around Europe, including left-wing parties such as the Republican Left of Catalonia.[30]
The political culture of Lega Nord is a mix of pride in the heritage of Northern Italy (particularly with historical references to the anti-imperial Lega Lombarda; the warrior on the party emblems represents Alberto da Giussano, a mythical figure of wars against Barbarossa[31], from which they inherited anti-monopolism and anti-centralism), distrust of some Southern Italian habits and Roman authorities, distrust of Italy and especially its flag, some support for free market, anti-statism, independentism, and claims of a Celtic heritage.
Despite being officially founded on federalism – the party's constitution says that the party will end its political activity when federalism is obtained – Lega Nord is no longer a single-issue party. It is difficult to define it in the left-right spectrum because it is variously conservative, centrist and left-wing with regard to different issues. For example, the party supports both liberal ideas, such as deregulation, and social-democratic ones, such as the defense of wages and pensions. This is because Lega Nord, as a "people's party" representing the North as a whole, includes both liberal-conservative and social-democratic factions. In general, it supports the social market economy and many others goals typical of Christian-democratic parties, and has been described as a "neo-labour party" by some commentators[32] and also by some of its members.[33][34]
The original program of the party identified "federalist libertarianism" as ideology.[35] In fact the party has often varied its tone and its policies, replacing its original libertarianism and social liberalism with a more socially conservative approach, alterning anti-clericalism with a pro-Catholic Church stance, Europeanism with a marked Euroscepticism[36][37], and abandoning its original pacifism and uncompromising ecologism.[38]
Umberto Bossi recently explained in an interview that Lega Nord is "libertarian, but also socialist" and that the right-wing he likes is anti-statist and with a "libertarian idea of a State which does not weigh on citizens". When asked to tell his most preferred politician of the 20th Century he said Giacomo Matteotti, a Socialist MP who was killed by Fascists in 1925, and remembered his anti-fascist and left-wing roots. He also praised the "courage" of Walter Veltroni, leader of the Democratic Party and did not exclude a future alliance with him, as also the possibility that Lega Nord could be dissolved when Italy would have become a federal state.[39] Regarding this, Affari Italiani, a well-known online newspaper, hinted that by 2013 Lega Nord would merge into The People of Freedom and that Lega Nord's leading members would obtain important roles in the party and, maybe, one of them (Roberto Maroni, Giancarlo Giorgetti or Marco Reguzzoni) would be the candidate for Prime Minister in 2018.[40]
Lega Nord is populist in the sense that it is an anti-monopolist and anti-elitist popular and participative party (it is one of the few Italian political parties to not permit free-masons to join), fighting against the "vested interests", once identified by Bossi as "Agnelli, the Pope and the Mafia". The party is also libertarian-populist in its promotion of small ownership, small and medium-sized enterprise, small government as opposed to governmental bureaucracy, waste of public funds, pork barrel spending and corruption.[41] These are the main reasons why the party is strong in the North, despite being obscured (especially at the beginning of its history) and badly-presented by national media, television and newspapers.

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Giancarlo Gentilini, Lega Nord's deputy mayor of Treviso called in 2007 for the "ethnic cleansing" of homosexuals." I will immediately give orders to my forces so that they can carry out an ethnic cleansing of faggots," he told a local television station. "The faggots must go to other cities where they are welcome. Here in Treviso there is no chance for faggots or the like."

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In the same year he taunted Pecoraro Scanio, Italy's Minister of the Environment and an open bisexual, by saying: "In Gorgo, a woman was raped with a chisel in the back and in the front. I say to Pecoraro Scanio that I want the same thing to happen to his mother and his sister."

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Pro-Federalist Lega Nord – the party's constitution says that the party will end its political activity when federalism is obtained - are no strangers to racially motivated violence: indeed, MEP Mario Borghezio was fined in 1993 for beating a 12 year old Moroccan child. In 2005, whilst sitting as an MEP, he was found guilty of setting fire to the belongings of immigrants under a railway bridge in Turin, during a vigilante raid. In September 2007 he was arrested by Belgian police for his part in an anti-Islamic demonstration.

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The former leader of Lega Nord, Umberto Bossi, an MEP in the last parliament, was convicted of incitement to violence in 1998. He received a one-year suspended prison sentence. He had previously received a conviction for taking a 200 million bribe. In 2003 he described Africans as "Bingo-Bongos", and suggested that the Italian navy should open fire on boats carrying refugees.

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Notorious holocaust denier Father Floriano Abrahamowicz is considered to be the "unofficial Chaplain" of Lega Nord. He told an Italian newspaper: "I know the gas chambers existed... but I don't know if anyone was killed in them. I know that, in addition to the official version, there is another version..." He has also been a vocal supporter of Erich Priebke, the German SS officer convicted of war crimes for a 1944 massacre in Rome, extradited to Italy from Argentina and currently living under house arrest.

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The Lega has its own militant faction, the so-called Green shirts.

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