BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Friday, 4 May, 2001, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Profile: Berlusconi's allies
BBC News Online profiles Silvio Berlusconi's controversial right-wing coalition partners - Umberto Bossi and Gianfranco Fini.

Umberto Bossi

Most Italian politicians are smart and suave but the 60 year old leader of the Northern League Umberto Bossi cuts a rather rough and ready image.

Umberto Bossi
Umberto Bossi of the Northern League
Not only does he stand out in appearance, he is also one of the most controversial figures in Italian politics.

Italian comedian Corrado Guzzanti does an impression of Umberto Bossi as a Hannibal character gagged and bound.

Gagged because Bossi regularly embarrasses Berlusconi with outrageous remarks directed at the left, immigrants, gays and the EU.

Umberto Bossi became renowned in the 1990s when he campaigned for total secession of northern Italy from the state-subsidised South.

This campaign for an independent Northern Italy he calls "Padania" has lost appeal since Italy joined the euro.

Today Bossi is advocating devolution of power from Rome to the regions and a tough clampdown on illegal immigration which has caused worried Europeans to liken him to Austria's Joerg Haider.

Bossi hasn't much time for the EU and European integration, having recently described it as "the Soviet Union of the West".

Gianfranco Fini

National Alliance leader Gianfranco Fini is lined up to become Berlusconi's right-hand man as deputy prime minister if the centre right coalition wins.

Gianfranco Fini
Gianfranco Fini of the National Alliance
He has said however that he would not quit as leader of his party.

Fini ran for the post of mayor of Rome in 1993 but was pipped to the post by centre-left leader and candidate Francisco Rutelli.

Fini's breakthrough came in 1994, when his neo-fascist party was given five ministerial posts and several other key assignments in a short-lived coalition government headed by billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.

This broke a long-standing antifascist taboo and established a precedent for conservative politicians, who had previously shunned alliances with the ultra-right.

Fini's extreme right past is causing concern in Europe, especially in the wake of its alliance in Sicily with notorious neo-fascist Pino Rauti.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories