Matteo Salvini's Northern League in 2016

Between Stasis and New Opportunities

in Volume 32 (2017): Issue 1 (Sep 2017): The Great Reform That Never Was. Guest Editors: Alessandro Chiaramonte and Alex Wilson

Under Matteo Salvini’s leadership, the Northern League has sought to move away from its status of regionalist party to become a truly national (even nationalist) party, following the example of the National Front in France. For the new leader, the issues of federalism and devolution seem to play a less relevant role than opposition to the European Union and, more generally, to the so-called political establishment. This chapter shows that 2016 has been a transition year for the party. After two years of significant electoral expansion, the 2016 local elections seemed to mark a moment of stagnation. Salvini’s popularity ceased to grow and even started to decline. This posed some challenges to his right-wing populist project. Yet the concluding section of the chapter highlights the new political opportunities arising from Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election and from Renzi’s constitutional referendum defeat at the end of 2016.