In the two decades since it was founded, the Northern League has become a potent force in Italian politics.
Born in 1991 as a federation of several regional parties from Northern and Central Italy, its political programme advocates transforming the country into a federal state.
Founded on federalism, the party says it will end its political activity when this is obtained. It calls for Italy to be divided into separate and autonomous entities, with the macro-region of Padania in the north.
This in turn leads to another aim – fiscal devolution. Northern League voters believe that tax paid in the north should stay in the north – and want this backed up by law.
The League is also said to have influenced the Berlusconi government’s policy on immigration, particularly those who enter Italy illegally from the sea.
Despite concerns over the handling of asylum seekers, Maroni decided to send boats carrying illegal immigrants back to Libya – a decision which one poll said was backed by 76 % of Italians.