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Italy's Lega Nord seek second wind

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Italy's Lega Nord seek second wind


Italy’s struggle to master its debt and deficit excesses by pursuing higher taxes has raised the intensity of protests by the prosperous north.

The Northern League, the biggest opposition party against Prime Minister Mario Monti’s technocrat government in Rome, on Sunday chose former Interior Minister Roberto Maroni as its leader.

With general elections less than a year away, backers hope Maroni can capitalise on the growing discontent with austerity reform policies.

Correspondent Loredana Pianta spoke to league member Roberto Cota.

Cota said: “Our tax burden is absolutely intolerable, and that’s why companies leave. They are not going away because they are stupid or incompetent. The tax burden on companies must be lowered, to make them competitive.”

The devolutionist ‘Lega Nord’ party wants industrious northern Italy to free itself from what it sees as the corrupt and inefficient south.

Cota, president of the Piedmont region, finds fault with European integration and insists that regions be given more voice.

With corporate tax in Italy last year among Europe’s highest, at nearly 69 percent, Cota told euronews: “Centralised states today can’t provide answers. So if these answers arrive from local level, central states must accept that. I have a question: why is a Piedmont entrepreneur different from a Bavarian one? Why does the tax system in Bavaria protect companies’ interests? That is our right too.”

When leadership of the Northern League passed from founder Umberto Bossi to Roberto Maroni after a perks scandal, Maroni again stressed the party’s complaint that southern Italy has long been a burden on the richer north, saying this had to stop.

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