Confirmation that Italy’s Northern League has won the governorship of the economic powerhouse of Lombardy has set it up for a renewed power struggle with Rome and Brussels.
Despite winning under four per cent of the vote in the national election, in the separate regional vote Roberto Maroni beat off the centre-left to win with almost 43 per cent support.
The Northern League’s leader lost no time in setting out his agenda. “Our programme is to build up a Northern macro-region able to deal with Rome in order to get everything we want,” he said.
The Northern League’s victory in Lombardy means the party will control all the biggest northern regions, including Piedmont and Veneto.
They alone produce almost 60 per cent of Italy’s wealth. Traditionally eurosceptic, the League is now looking to take advantage of the EU’s own development plan to spread its influence beyond national borders.
“There is a European project to build up a euro-region around the Alps and the Padan Plain (Po Valley),” Maroni says. “It already includes four Italian regions, Slovenia, (the Austrian state of) Carinthia, Switzerland and a French region. This is the euro-region model I want to take shape, emanating from northern Italy.”
The Northern League’s success in the country’s wealthiest and most populous region is a boost for its aspiration to break away from Italy – and for its electoral ally Silvio Berlusconi.