Letter; Divided Italy

The regional division which Umberto Bossi and the Northern League endorse is as long-lived as the political union of Italy in 1861, a union which did not rely on a groundswell of popular support and movement ("Enter the Independent Republic of Padania", 9 June). Italy has never been a nation. A superimposed state has to this day failed to eliminate regional differences, as the League's success in Italy's April election testifies. Liberalism, Fascism and Christian Democrat-led democracy have left little impression on the formation of an Italian people who seem only to rally behind the national flag when it comes to EU subsidies and Euro 96. Elsewhere, acute ancient commercial, topographical and linguistic divisions still lie.

Niccol Machiavelli, in his Discourses, predicted unification to be possible only under the guidance of the Pope. Perhaps that is from whom the current prime minister, in his apparent striving for a new federalist structure, should seek guidance.

Dominique Coombes

Oxford

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