A political-economic geography of Italian regionalism : the Northern League (Lega Nord), 1984-96
This thesis contributes to the debates surrounding the resurgence of regionalism in contemporary Europe by examining the situation in Italy. The main theoretical perspectives of regionalism are examined as well as the historical development of the Italian national-state and the significant transformations it has undergone in recent years. The main focus of the study is the Northern League (Lega Nord) (LN) regionalist political party, which has risen to political prominence in Italian politics over the last ten years. The LN's claims for greater regional autonomy and its attempts to invent an identity for the North of Italy, or 'Padania' (as the LN calls it) have brought to the fore questions about the future structure of governance in Italy. The LN's claims for the secession of 'Padania' are a direct challenge to Italian national unity and identity. The LN claims to be the party of the North of Italy (or 'Padania') but its electoral support is not uniform across the whole of the territory. The thesis explores how and why the party's level of electoral support varies geographically, which involves examining the historical and electoral development of the LN; its organisational structures; how the party communicates its political rhetoric; and how the party’s discourses have evolved over time. The LN is analysed in three case-study areas within Northern and Central Italy in order to understand how different geographical contexts help or hinder the success of the party. The first case study area is the province of Varese, which is symbolically important for the LN and where the party is electorally strong; the second area is the autonomous province of Trentino where the LN is confronted with a distinct set of institutional and political structures; and the third is the province of Macerata in Central Italy where the LN is electorally weak.