The Media and Neo-Populism: A Contemporary Comparative Analysis

By Gianpietro Mazzoleni; Julianne Stewart et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
The Lega Nord and the Italian
Media System

Roberto Biorcio

A complex and, at times, contradictory and ambivalent interaction has been established between the Italian media system and the Lega Nord (the Northern League), the neo-populist right-wing party of northern Italy. The electoral successes of the new party in 1990 and in 1992 initially took journalists and opinion makers by surprise and disoriented them, and the subsequent approach of the media to the Lega Nord has taken a variety of different forms. Umberto Bossi, the charismatic leader of the new party, has largely anticipated other political actors and the leading newspapers and television networks by grasping the tensions, moods, demands, and problems of contemporary Italian society, and he has been able to make use of these elements in successful political initiatives. The Lega Nord has also adopted innovative, even transgressive, communication strategies, succeeding in both attacking the dominant logic of the media system and activating a new media logic to ensure its own visibility in the various phases of its development.


FROM REGIONALISM TO NEO-POPULISM

The characteristics of the Lega Nord have developed over the last twenty or so years. Between 1979 and 1989 several embryonic leagues were formed in the largest regions in northern Italy (Veneto, Piedmont, and Lombardy). These small leagues set out to increase the powers of their respective regions and to obtain political autonomy from Rome and the central state. The regional leagues laid down the conditions for the formation of the Lega Nord but were in themselves a radically new political experience. As subordinate political entities with almost non-

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