Document Type

Honors Project


Emerging from the ashes of the old electoral system of the First Republic, an ideological populism built on regional identity, most significantly espoused by the Lega Nord political party, became a dominant force in Italian politics. This populism initially attacked a corrupt state, but evolved to confront perceived threats to its homeland region, such as globalization and immigration. Despite these developments, this populism continues to create a discourse which pits a virtuous, homogenous people against a set of self-serving poteri forti (powers that be). What self-serving powers gave rise to this populism? This anti-state, xenophobic populism exists as a response to a “negative aggregation” of political, social, and economic conjunctures systemic to Italian politics since its formation as a republic in 1861. It is clear that specific elements of contemporary Italian state formation and political economy gave rise to this populism and sustained its particular ideological construction. Thus this investigation traces these forces that have allowed Lega and the populism it embodies to emerge politically at the end of Italy’s First Republic.



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