Separatist mayor for Italian city

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ROME (Reuter) - Italy's separatist Northern League, the country's fastest-rising political group, has taken control of a city council for the first time.

The support of the ex-Communist PDS helped the League install Raimondo Fassa as mayor in Varese, one of its strongholds in the Lombardy region. Councillors had been struggling to agree on a mayor after elections last month in which the League emerged as the largest party but without an absolute majority.

Economic crisis, rising crime and a scandal involving the leading parties have helped the rise of the League, which wants to split Italy into three parts linked by a federal structure. The League won 55 of the 630 seats in the lower house of parliament last year.