A symbolic “Parliament” of separatists who want to form a new nation in northern Italy held their first meeting Sunday - another gesture by the Northern League to promote its independence drive.
The 200-member body was chosen during an “election” organized by the league, which wants to establish an independent nation called Padania north of the Po River. It would include Italy’s business capital, Milan.
The league’s support comes mostly from Italians in the wealthier northern regions who complain about high taxes, heavy bureaucracy and government corruption.
Although the Italian government declared the Oct. 27 vote illegal, Padania’s Parliament opened Sunday to the strains of an operatic aria and a visit by the flamboyant Russian ultranationalist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
To the irritation of the government and more traditional political parties, Northern League leader Umberto Bossi is adept at keeping his separatist agenda in the public eye.