Italian President Sees No Room for Democratic Secession, ‘Grotesque’ State

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said secession advocated by the governing Northern League coalition party would violate the constitution, recalling the imprisonment of a Sicilian separatist leader in the 1940s.

“Within the constitution and laws, there is no room for a democratic path to secession,” Napolitano said late yesterday in Naples in remarks broadcast on Sky TG24 television.

While discussions about fiscal federalism are acceptable, secession is not, the Corriere della Sera daily reported, citing Napolitano. The president pointed to the arrest of Andrea Finocchiaro Aprile for seeking to orchestrate Sicily’s secession in the 1940s, according to the report.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi has made increasingly explicit calls for the wealthier northern regions to separate from the rest of Italy. The League is one of the parties holding up Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government, and its departure from the coalition would cause a collapse.

La Padania, the Northern League’s official newspaper, responded to Napolitano today with a full, front-page article saying “I exist and am Padanian,” referring to the alternative name for Northern Italy that the League often uses.

In the article, Roberto Calderoli, a party member and minister for legislative simplification, said Napolitano needs to consider people’s rights to self-determination. The League has been on Italy’s political scene for more than 20 years and has always guaranteed democracy, according to the report.

“Padania does not exist,” Napolitano said yesterday, according to Corriere. He called the formation of a hypothetical separate Lombard-Venetian state “grotesque.”

The president’s press service wasn’t immediately available for comment on the weekend.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alessandra Migliaccio in Rome at amigliaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net.

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