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Addressing contradictory needs: the Lega Nord and Italian immigration policy

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Cento Bull addresses the question of whether the Italian Lega Nord, when in government, pursues policies that contradict its rhetoric (politics of simulation or symbolic politics) or policies that are in line with its dominant discourse (politics of identity). Her analysis focuses on immigration policy because this is an area that links together economic issues (immigration is highly functional to the economy of those regions of Italy that form the Lega's strongholds) and identity issues (immigration is seen as visibly threatening cultural values and disrupting community cohesion). She argues that recent legislation in this area, approved in July 2009, is formally in line with Lega rhetoric but also that actual policy outcomes contradict both the party's rhetoric and the legislation itself. This confirms the validity of the concept of 'simulative politics' in so far as it refers to a societal practice of self-deception, rather than simply to practices of deception on the part of political actors.
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Keywords: Italy; Lega Nord; immigration; politics of identity; populism; security package; symbolic politics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2010

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