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Since the late 1980s, the Lega Nord has broken the mould of Italian politics. Federalist, secessionist, populist, it has succeeded in mobilizing the entrepreneurial class of Northern Italy in a campaign against the Italian state. In 1996, it launched the idea of "Panadia", a separate Northern Italian nation. This proved to be a step too far, but the Lega remains a political force to be reckoned with, and has propelled "the Northern question" on to the national stage.
ANNA CENTO BULL is Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Bath. She has published widely on the Legal Nord and her most recent book is Social Identities and Political Cultures in Italy. - MARK GILBERT is Lecturer in Italian Politics at the University of Bath. His publications include The Italian Revolution: The End of Politics, Italian Style and he is co-editor, with G.Pasquino, of Politica in Italia, 2000/Italian Politics: The Faltering Transition.