April 14, 2012

The fall of the House of Bossi?

Filed under: Europe, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:59

BBC News has a profile of Umberto Bossi, who recently had to resign as head of the political party he founded, Italy’s Northern League:

… Mr Bossi made one of his charismatic, raucous and fiery speeches, declaring in essence that northern Italians were no longer going to kow-tow to Rome’s greedy politicians and to pay their taxes to enable lazy southern Italians to live on public welfare.

One of his famous phrases was “Roma ladrona” meaning “Thieving Romans!”

It was all pretty provocative stuff, and had strongly racist undertones.

The League mocks the accents and the origins of Southerners whom they derisively call “terroni”. I suppose “ignorant peasant” would be the nearest English translation.

[. . .]

Sixteen years later it turns out that Umberto Bossi has apparently been dipping into the public trough, even more deeply than the Roman politicians he was so critical of when he founded his separatist party, and set up the phantom north Italian state he dubbed “Padania” – meaning the country of the river Po.

In 2004 Mr Bossi suffered a stroke which left him with impaired speech, but failed to quench his political ambitions or his vulgar public manners.

He frequently uses swear words in public to smear anyone he does not like and often gives the finger in front of TV cameras to make his message even more clear.

[. . .]

According to court documents, Mr Bossi’s wife bought no fewer than 11 houses and apartments with Northern League party funds.

Mr Bossi himself had his own house done up with public money and his son Renzo — nicknamed by his father the Trout, who in fact does have a somewhat fish-like expression — also had access to apparently unlimited cash to indulge in his taste for fast cars.

The party even paid for the Trout’s speeding tickets, not to mention medical expenses. The 23-year-old has now been forced to resign from his sinecure as a regional government official, which brought him 12,000 euros (£10,000, $16,000) a month.

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