The rhetoric of regionalism: the Northern League in Italian politics: 1983-94

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Research on the geography of political movements has tended to emphasize the social processes which produce support for the movements rather than the geographical objectives of the movements and the political basis of their appeal. This paper examines the rise of the Northern League in northern Italy in terms of the movement's rhetoric and support. The key argument is that this movement shifted its rhetoric from regional separatism to national populism as it gained in electoral strength in northern Italy and as the established parties of government collapsed. The original rhetoric of regionalism has given way to a rhetoric of national political renewal based on a projection of 'northern' political virtues. Although localistic in its social roots the Northern League has been drawn into a national political discourse in which national political ambitions have displaced regional ones. For even the most devotedly local of parties regional ambitions were not enough. This has implications for all forms of politics based on drawing an opposition between the local and the national.

Keywords: Italy; Northern League; populism; regionalism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 1995

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