Det mest oppsiktsvekkende ved det italienske valget var at Liga Nord doblet stemmeandelen til 8 %. Resultatet føyer seg inn i et mønster i Europa der folk gir uttrykk for stigende misnøye med det flerkulturelle prosjektet.

For noen er dette uttrykk for fremmedfrykt, men at følelsene er genuine er det liten tvil om og de forsvinner neppe ved at de kalles stygge ting, til det er følelsene for sterke.

Ligaen har for øvrig fått et rykte på seg på grunn av partileder Bossis til tider eksentriske uttalelser.

The League, which doubled its vote to more than 8 per cent, opposes Muslim immigration to defend the «Christian identity» of Italy and detests the European Union, whose officials were once called «filthy pigs» by the party’s unpredictable leader Umberto Bossi.
The most intense speculation, however, is over the future power of the Northern League, which is likely to gain the Interior Ministry (Roberto Maroni) and the Ministries for Reform (Roberto Calderoli) and Welfare (Rosi Mauro). Above all Mr Bossi will expect high office, even though he had a severe stroke four years ago and can still barely speak.

Mr Bossi has, however, described African immigrants as «Bingo Bongos» and said illegal immigrants arriving by boat should be «blown out of the water». During the election campaign he called on his supporters to «take up arms» against «that rabble in Rome» over allegedly confusing ballot papers.

Mr Berlusconi has crossed swords with Mr Bossi, once casting doubt on his mental state, with the latter at one stage describing Mr Berlusconi as a «mafioso» and «Berluskaiser», raising doubts over whether the alliance will last this time.

Today Mr Bossi denied Mr Berlusconi would be «my hostage», telling La Stampa: «He is my friend. We have an electoral pact, and we will honour it».

The Northern League or Lega Nord was founded in 1991 to campaign for greater autonomy for northern Italy, which it calls «Padania». Its leaders act as if the imaginary state of Padania existed, and have at times called for secession, playing on the resentment many northern Italians feel over subsidising the «lazy and corrupt» Italian South with their taxes.

The League brought down the 1994 Berlusconi government by withdrawing from it, but served for a full five-year term as part of Mr Berlusconi’s administration between 2001 and 2006.

It draws on medieval myths for its symbolism, takes a conservative stand on issues such as abortion and gay marriage and claims to represent ordinary families, workers and small enterprises.

Berlusconi injects glamour into Cabinet, but fears raised over anti-immigrant party