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‘Institutional thickness’, political sub-culture and the resurgence of (the ‘new’) regionalism in Italy – a case study of the Northern League in the province of Varese

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In recent years, the ‘regional scale’ within the European Union (EU) has become more central within academic and policy debates. In particular, there has been an increased focus upon the importance of so-called ‘institutional thickness’ for regional development within the EU. Furthermore, the fact that in several European countries, regionalist political parties have made significant electoral gains has ensured that the ‘regional question’ in Europe has become even more prevalent. This paper explores the linkages between institutions and regionalist political parties by focusing upon the situation in Italy where the resurgence of political regionalism, centred on the Lega Nord (LN) or Northern League political party, has been particularly strong. In particular, the paper focuses upon the development of the LN in a particular province of Northern Italy, Varese. This section explores the ways in which the LN has developed institutionally and electorally and indeed whether the party has been able to develop a specific political sub-culture to replace the previous one associated with the Christian Democrat (DC) party, which was the main party in Varese before the landmark changes that took place in Italian politics in the early 1990s.

Keywords: Italy; Lega Nord; Varese; political sub-culture; regionalism; ‘institutional thickness’

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1475-5661.00004

Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Manchester, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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