Italy’s Northern League is again calling for a breakaway from the south – and under leader Umberto Bossi it is the only party refusing to back Mario Monti’s emergency government.
The League wants independence for some northern regions it calls Padania. It believes unpopular austerity measures will quickly erode support for the government, and it is looking to capitalise.
In Vicenza it has reopened a ‘Parliament of the North’, which last met nearly five years ago – with its sights set on divorce from the south by mutual consent.
“I think that on the basis of a redistribution of our public debt, a consensual separation could emerge, like the Czechoslovakia model: it’s one we’ve been looking at for a long time,” said Roberto Calderoli, a leading figure in the party who was a minister under Silvio Berlusconi.
For a decade the Northern League was a loyal coalition partner in the last government.
Now it is back to crying foul over what it sees as a hardworking north mugged by central government and a lazy south.
Elections in Italy are not due till 2013, but the League is already campaigning.