Destre Unite, No Gay/Merde Lega, Turin

Italy’s Lega Nord (Northern League) does not inspire much brand name recognition. Outside the country, that is. With the exception of Italian expats, and students of European populism, the anti-immigrant party has been relatively invisible to the outside world, compared to sibling organizations such as France’s National Front, and Austria’s Freedom Party.

Blame ally and coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi for monopolizing their extremism. Sharing much of their xenophobia, the outspoken ex-Prime Minister frequently overshadowed the Lega’s controversial proposals, such as shooting illegal migrants in the Mediterranean, to prevent them from reaching shore, with equally outrageous talk of his own.

The one thing the League is known for abroad is its posters. A frequent subject of foreign press attention following Berlusconi’s reelection in 2008, its use of images of American Indians was of particular media interest. Whoever was doing their design work clearly had brain. These noble Indians were in reality native Italians, threatened with extinction by illegal immigration.

Most Northern League posters, however, are not as interesting. Except, perhaps, in terms of their color schemes. Usually focusing on Umberto Bossi, the party’s recently-departed leader, Lega Nord posters have been especially ubiquitous in Milan.

Sporting a more simple message (“Vote”) this poster was shot on Viale Andrea Doria, near Milano Centrale.

Unsurprisingly, following the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi last November, the Northern League has also been plunged into crisis. As already stated, its founder and former leader, Umberto Bossi, stepped down – last week. Having headed the organization for over two decades, the cause of his fall from grace was relatively unsurprising: alleged misuse of party funds, and Mafia ties.

Hence our decision to close with this photo. Featuring a plastic bag sporting the Northern League’s name for northern Italy (the mythic nation of Padania) its placement, on top of a couple of garbage bins in central Turin, is delightfully suggestive of the Lega’s fortunes. Without Bossi, its future definitely looks grim.

Photos courtesy of the author