Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Bossi calls Maroni 'traitor', sparks League uproar

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)
Rome, June 4 - The founder of the Northern League
sparked a party uproar Tuesday when he said he should return to
lead the regionalist movement after calling party head and
Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni a "traitor" for allying too
closely with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and the center right.
"He doesn't share our ideals," said Umberto Bossi in an
interview with Italian daily La Repubblica. "I must absolutely
come back to lead the party".
Bossi, who in the 1980s spearheaded the movement that
eventually became the Northern League, stepped down from the
helm in April, 2012 when it was announced he was being probed
for alleged corruption.
Maroni then took over, and signs of a strained relationship
soon surfaced.
That July, Maroni said Bossi only played an "emotional
role" in the party, to which the party founder took offence.
"I'm the boss. There are many small dogs who bark very
loudly but don't frighten anyone," said Bossi.
On Wednesday he directed his ire at Maroni for "fooling
himself into thinking he'll become Berlusconi's plenipotentiary
in the north".
A long-time ally of Berlusconi, the League broke from his
People of Freedom (PdL) party when the center-right bloc first
backed the unelected technocrat government of Mario Monti in
2011.
Divisions between the parties persisted until January when
the PdL reached a deal to resume its alliance with the League,
which stated that Berlusconi would not become Italian premier
for a fourth time if the centre-right coalition won.
In exchange, the PdL backed Maroni in his successful
election bid to become governor of Italy's richest region,
Lombardy.
The PdL went on to win substantial votes in general
elections, albeit slightly fewer than the center-left Democratic
Party (PD), forcing the two blocs to eventually forge a fragile
left-right coalition headed by the PD's Enrico Letta.
The League founder blasted Maroni for giving into
Berlusconi, "who doesn't believe in (northern) independence".
Regional independence for northern Italy was once a
cornerstone of the League's ideology, but in recent years the
party has softened on the issue, even with Bossi at the reins.
Bossi's remarks were met with unanimous rebuke from
high-ranking Northern League members who chided the party
founder for "hurting the movement".
"Umberto Bossi, whom I respect and will always recognize
for what he's created, is making a mistake," Northern League
Deputy Secretary Matteo Salvini told ANSA. "Saying such things
hurts the movement".
Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi, the head of the League's Veneto
region chapter, said Bossi's comments were "deleterious" and
were sure to further damage the party, which has suffered
fallout from accusations tied to former League treasurer
Francesco Belsito, who was arrested in April on charges of
alleged criminal association and aggravated fraud.
Investigators say some of the money embezzled money went
towards a 2.5-million-euro yacht allegedly bought by Bossi's son
Riccardo.
The Bossi family has denied all wrongdoing.
Tosi said Bossi's remarks were especially harmful given
they came five days before runoffs in local elections.
"He's shooting off (his mouth)" without "any ability to
create consensus," he added.
Veneto Governor Luca Zaia said the remarks hurt "a party
whose true strength has always come from its monolithic unity
(and) washing its dirty laundry in house".
Maroni avoided comment.
"I'm even working today to solve citizens' problems," he
posted on Twitter.

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