No regionalism please, we are Leghisti!’. The transformation of the Italian Lega Nord under the leadership of Matteo Salvini

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External organisations

  • Polytechnic University of Turin
  • De Montfort University


Whilst the Lega Nord has traditionally been defined as a regionalist populist
party, since Matteo Salvini became its leader in 2013 it has undergone a
process of profound ideological transformation. This article assesses this
momentous change and the impact it could have on the future of the Lega,
drawing on a content analysis of Salvini’s and the party’s Facebook posts, as
well as interviews with regional leaders. It argues that, under Salvini’s personal
style of leadership: (a) regionalism has been replaced by an empty form of
nativist nationalism, which fails to address socio-economic issues related to
the North–South divide; (b) populism remains central to the party’s strategic
communication, but the EU has taken Rome’s place as the people’s ‘enemy’;
(c) this ideological shift has paid-off at the 2018 general election, but is
underpinned by latent fractures between the leader and regional
representatives which could have profound implications in the future.


Original languageEnglish
JournalRegional and Federal Studies
Early online date3 Sep 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Sep 2018


  • Regionalism, Nationalism, Lega Nord, Populism, personalization

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