Letter: Out of Italy

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The Independent Online
Contrary to what Anne Hanley writes ("Padania dream fades after Bossi's flop", 15 September), the challenge of the Northern League's separatist movement has only begun. Umberto Bossi, with his 59 MPs and 3.7 million votes at the last Italian elections, now leads the largest secessionist movement in Europe.

The Austrian statesman Metternich declared that Italy was merely "a geographic expression". Now, 135 years later, it is clear that regional allegiances far outweigh national ones. A Sicilian is first and foremost a Sicilian and only secondly an Italian. A unified political entity called Italy was created through military conquest from Piedmont, but Italians were never really woven into a single national consciousness. Now the centralised, bureaucratic and inept state apparatus, largely run by Roman and Southern politicians, has begun to break down.

The independent nation of Padania may appear an amusing fiction, but fictions have a surprising habit of becoming reality.

Rev Frank Julian Gelli

London W8