The Lega Nord in the Second Berlusconi Government: In a League of its Own
For regionalist populists like the Lega Nord, participation in coalition at national level requires striking a delicate balance between being a party of government and a movement of opposition. The key to this is choosing the right 'friends' and 'enemies' within government. In contrast to its previous time in power in 1994, in the second Berlusconi government (2001-05) the Lega cast itself as the Forza Italia leader's most faithful ally, while being seen to be in almost constant conflict with its fellow junior coalition partners: Alleanza Nazionale (AN) and the UDC. Indeed, as AN repositions itself within a respectable governmental 'European' Right, so the Lega appears ever more in a league of its own within the Italian centre-right. Based on exclusive recent interviews, this article examines the Lega's relationship to its heartland and its positions on issues such as immigration, Europe, globalisation and constitutional reform. We argue that the party has transformed itself into an 'institutionalised' populist movement that has successfully walked the tightrope of being seen to have 'one foot in and one foot out' of government.
West European Politics
Comparative Government and Politics