Liga Veneta
LeaderLuca Zaia
(President of Veneto)
SecretaryAlberto Stefani
Founded9 December 1979 (1979-12-09)[1]
HeadquartersVia Panà, 56
35027 Noventa Padovana
National affiliationLega Nord (1991–2020)
Lega per Salvini Premier (2020–present)
Colours  Green   Blue
Regional Council
30 / 51
Chamber of Deputies (Veneto seats)
9 / 32
Senate (Veneto seats)
4 / 16

Liga Veneta (Venetian: Łiga Vèneta; English: Venetian League; abbr. LV), whose complete name is Liga Veneta per Salvini Premier (English: Venetian League for Salvini Premier), is a regionalist political party active in Veneto.

The LV, whose ideology combines Venetian nationalism and support for fiscal federalism, was established in 1979 under the slogan "farther from Rome, closer to Europe",[6] and was the first party of its kind in northern Italy, predating Umberto Bossi's Lega Lombarda by five years. The LV was one of the founding "national" sections of Lega Nord (LN) in 1991 and has been the regional section of Lega per Salvini Premier (LSP) in Veneto since 2020. Despite its long alignment with Lega Nord and Lega, the LV has its ideological peculiarities and is seen as more centrist.

In the 2010 regional election the LV was by far the largest party in Veneto with 35.2% of the vote and LV's Luca Zaia, who was supported also by The People of Freedom, was elected President of Veneto with 60.2%. In the 2015 regional election the LV, which fielded also a "Zaia list" improved its tally to 40.9% and Zaia, who counted also on the support of some minor parties, was re-elected with 50.1%. In the 2020 regional election the LV's two lists improved again their tally to 61.5% and Zaia was re-elected by a landslide 76.8% of the vote.

While Zaia is the party's leading figure, Alberto Stefani serves as secretary. Another leading member is Lorenzo Fontana, from the party's conservative wing, who has been the President of Italy's Chamber of Deputies since 2022.



The origins of Venetian identity and Venetian nationalism lie in the Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic, which lasted eleven centuries from 697 to 1797, being one of the first modern republics of the world. After Veneto's annexation by Italy in 1866 and especially right after World War I calls for Venetian autonomy came from both left and right of the political spectrum. Early Venetists included Guido Bergamo, a member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Italian Republican Party, and Italico Corradino Cappellotto, a member of the Chamber for the Italian People's Party who launched the first full-fledged Venetist party, Lion of Saint Mark, which obtained 6.1% of the vote in the province of Treviso in the 1921 general election.

Venetist ideas made a comeback in the 1960s, when the Venetian Regionalist Autonomous Movement (MARV) campaigned for the institution of the ordinary regions (including Veneto), prefigured by the Constitution of Italy.[7][8] The ordinary regions were finally instituted in 1970. Since then, Veneto experienced a dramatic economic boom due to a new production model based on small enterprises. The high burden of taxes and bureaucracy, associated with the increasing frustration with the inefficient and overstaffed Italian government in Rome, that continued to channel northern taxes as massive development aid to the corrupt and backward southern regions, was the key element, along with linguistic and historical claims, that led to the formation of Liga Veneta.

Early years and splits (1978–1989)

Liga Veneta was promoted in 1978 by Franco Rocchetta, a Venetian philologist and president of the Venetian Philological Society who had been talking of a "Venetian league" since 1968. The party constitution, modelled on those of the Valdostan Union and the Radical Party, was officially signed by 14 founding members on 16 January 1980 in Padua[9][10][11] and Achille Tramarin was elected national secretary. In December 1979, during the party's first informal congress, named "farther from Rome, closer to Europe",[6] the opening speech recited: "Today for Venetians the moment has come, after 113 years of Italian unitary colonisation, to take their natural and human resources back, to fight against the wild exploitation that has brought emigration, pollution, and rooting out from their culture". European integration through the European Union (EU) was seen as an opportunity to give back to Veneto its autonomy.[12][13]

In the 1983 general election the LV gained 4.3% in Veneto: Tramarin was elected to the Chamber of Deputies and Graziano Girardi to the Senate.[14] In the Pedemontana, the area of the Padanian-Venetian Plain at the feet of the Venetian Prealps, the LV became the second largest party after then-dominant Christian Democracy (DC). This party would be mostly damaged from the rise of the LV as both parties concurred for the support of the middle class. DC regional leader Antonio Bisaglia had proposed a regional party modelled on the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, but opposition from Rome and his sudden death stopped the plan.[15][16] However, a few months later, a power struggle took place within the LV and the winner was Rocchetta, who had been behind the scenes up to that moment, but was disappointed for his missed election. Tramarin was replaced as national secretary by Marilena Marin, Rocchetta's future wife,[17] and, expelled by Marin, would form the splinter Liga Veneta Serenissima (LVS) in 1984. In the 1984 European Parliament election the LV gained 3.3% in Veneto, not enough to win any seats.[18]

In the 1985 regional election the party obtained 3.7% and two regional councillors: Ettore Beggiato and Rocchetta.[19] Tramarin's LVS won a mere 0.2% of the vote[20] and, since then, Rocchetta and Marin have had the party in their hands. That of the LVS was only one of serveral splits occurred over the decade. The first had been Giulio Pizzati's Liga Federativa Veneta in 1983,[21] while another occurred in 1987: some hardliners, led by Luigi Faccia and Flavio Contin, left the party and launched the Venetian Most Serene Government, which would organise the St Mark's Campanile's "assault" in 1997 (see Venetian nationalism).[22] However, the two most damaging splits were those of the Union of the Venetian People (UPV), formed by Beggiato (who was joined by Tramarin and Girardi) and that of the Veneto Autonomous Region Movement (MVRA). After the splits, the only counterweight to Rocchetta–Marin within the LV was thus represented by the Treviso wing, which then started to gain influence, under the leadership of Gian Paolo Gobbo and Mauro Michielon. In the next elections, the LV and the UPV had similar showings.[23]

Foundation of Lega Nord (1989–1994)

Rocchetta and Marin managed to forge an alliance with Umberto Bossi's Lega Lombarda (LL) for the 1989 European Parliament election, Lega Lombarda – Alleanza Nord, in which the LV won a mere 1.7% of the vote and no seats. In 1989–1990, ahead of the 1990 regional elections, the LV took part in the process of federating the northern regionalist parties, including the LL, Autonomist Piedmont, Ligurian Union, Emilia-Romagna League and Tuscan Alliance. In the 1990 regional election the LV and the UPV scored 5.9% and 1.9%, respectively. In the 1991 local elections, the UPV surpassed the LV. Some attempts to merge the two parties into one failed, but from that point, thanks to the alliance with Bossi, LV's rise would be unstoppable.[24]

In February 1991, the LV finally was merged with the five parties of the LL–AN alliance and newly-formed parties in the northern autonomous regions and provinces (the future Lega Vallée d'Aoste, Lega Alto Adige Südtirol, Lega Trentino, Lega Friuli and Lega Trieste) into Lega Nord (LN). Since then, the LV has been the "national" section of the LN in Veneto. Bossi was elected federal secretary and Rocchetta federal president. Thanks to the federal structure of the LN and to its ideology (according to which Padania is a country formed of different nations: Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont, etc.), the LV retained much of its autonomy, but occasionally tensions occurred with "the Lombards", causing splits.

In the 1992 general election, the LN scored 8.7% throughout Italy and the LV won 17.8% of the vote in Veneto and was second only to the DC, returning to the Chamber and the Senate after five years, this time with several elects. The UPV and the MVRA both won 1.5% of the vote, while Lega Autonomia Veneta (LAV), formed by the former Socialist mayor of Venice Mario Rigo, got 4.7% of the vote. The Venetist movement, divided as ever, however gained the support of about a quarter of Venetian voters.[25]

Heyday and further splits (1994–1998)

In the 1994 general election the LV won 21.6% of the vote in Veneto (the LAV took 3.2%) and three of its members joined Berlusconi I Cabinet: Rocchetta was undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Mariella Mazzetto of Education and Giovanni Meo Zilio (a former Socialist partisan during Italian resistance), of University and Research. Between 1994 and 1995 the LV was also part of the regional government for the first time, with Gobbo as Vice President.

In July 1994 Marin was replaced by Fabrizio Comencini as national secretary of the party, while Gobbo was elected national president. Shortly after, in September, Rocchetta and Marin left the party in disagreement with Bossi and the new Venetian leadership, founding Liga Nathion Veneta. Rocchetta was replaced by Stefano Stefani, a leading member of the LV, as federal president of Lega Nord in February 1995. The exit of Rocchetta and Marin made possible the comeback of Beggiato into the party. Thanks to this the LV did not suffer a major setback in the 1995 regional election: 17.4% and 9 regional councillors elected.

In the 1996 general election Bossi led Lega Nord to its strongest showing in a general election: with 10.1% of the vote, the party, present only in Northern Italy, became the fourth largest of the country. Comencini's Liga Veneta was the strongest national section of the League: it gained 29.3% of the vote in Veneto, 19 deputies and 9 senators, mostly elected in single-seat constituencies, in which the party, favoured by split-ticket voting, gained a total 32.8% of the vote.

In 1994 the party won the mayorship of Treviso with Giancarlo Gentilini, and a year later it gained control of three provinces: Padua with Renzo Sacco, Verona with Antonio Borghesi and Treviso with Giovanni Mazzonetto. In 1997 the party won also in the province of Vicenza with Manuela Dal Lago, while Luca Zaia was elected President of the province of Treviso, replacing Mazzonetto, in 1998. Also in 1998, Gentilini was re-elected mayor of Treviso.

In 1998 Comencini left the party over disagreements with Bossi and formed a brand-new Venetist party named Liga Veneta Repubblica (then Veneti d'Europa). Seven regional councillors out of nine followed Comencini into the new party, while Gobbo took over as national secretary of the LV, along with a new national president, Giuseppe Ceccato (who left the party in 1999).[26] In the 1999 provincial elections the party lost the provinces of Padua and Verona.

Decline and resurgence (1998–2006)

By 2000 the party started to recover from the schism of 1998 and took 12.0% of the vote in the 2000 regional election (the combined score of Veneti d'Europa and Fronte Marco Polo, another split, was 3.7%), re-joining after five years the regional government.

In the 2001 general election the LV won a mere 10.2% in Veneto, with 9 deputies and 4 senators elected, all in single-seat constituencies, thanks to the alliance with Forza Italia within the House of Freedoms coalition. After the election, Dozzo and Stefani joined Berlusconi II Cabinet as undersecretaries of Agriculture and Industry, respectively.

In the 2002 provincial elections the party won for the second time in a row in Vicenza and Treviso. The province of Treviso confirmed itself as the most-leghista province of Italy and Zaia was re-elected Provincial President with more than 40% in the first round and with almost 70% in the run-off, although he had refused the support of Lega Nord's allies in Rome and Venice, Forza Italia and National Alliance. Also in 2002 LV's Luciano Gasperini was elected federal president of Lega Nord. In a party congress in Vicenza, Gobbo was re-elected national secretary and Dal Lago was elected national president. In 2003 Gobbo was also elected mayor of Treviso.

In the 2005 regional election the LV gained 14.7% of the vote, despite the presence of other two Venetist parties (North-East Project and Liga Fronte Veneto, 5.4% and 1.2% respectively), and was decisive for the third re-election of Giancarlo Galan as President of Veneto. After the election, the LV joined the third Galan government, with Zaia Vice President of the Region and minister of Agriculture and Tosi minister of Health.

In the 2006 general election however, the party scored 11.1% and got elected 5 deputies and 3 senators. It was the worst result in terms of elected members in the Italian Parliament since 1987, due to the narrow victory of the centre-left, which won the majority-premium for the Chamber of Deputies and to the presence of North-East Project (2.7%) and of Liga Fronte Veneto (0.7%). In a provincial election Leonardo Muraro was elected President of the province of Treviso and the LV scored 29.2% (combined result of party list, 15.6%, and Zaia's personal list, 13.6%), despite a good result by the rival North-East Project (11.6%).

Road to the leadership of Veneto (2006–2010)

In 2007 Tosi was elected mayor of Verona by a landslide (60.8% against the 33.9% of incumbent Paolo Zanotto), while in the provincial election of Vicenza Attilio Schneck succeeded to Dal Lago as President (60.0%, largely ahead of her main challenger, Pietro Collareda, who stopped at 17.2%). Both Tosi, who was the second leghista to become mayor of a big city after Marco Formentini in Milan between 1993 and 1997, and Schneck were supported by the House of Freedoms coalition, but the LV had an excellent result in both races: in Vicenza it garnered 19.0% of the vote, while in Verona it ranked first among the parties with 28.4% (combined score of party list, 12.0%, and Tosi's personal list, 16.4%). In June 2007, Tosi was replaced as regional minister of Health by Francesca Martini.

In the 2008 general election the LV won a surprising 27.1% in Veneto, its best result since the 1996 election, getting 16 deputies and 7 senators elected. Meanwhile, Gobbo was re-elected mayor of Treviso with 50.4% of the vote, twice the score of his main opponent. The combined result of the LV and Giancarlo Gentilini's personal list was 35.4%. Subsequently, Zaia became minister of Agriculture and Martini undersecretary of Health in Berlusconi IV Cabinet. Federico Bricolo became floor leader of Lega Nord in the Senate. Zaia and Martini were thus replaced in the regional government by Franco Manzato and Sandro Sandri, respectively.

In July 2008 the party held its national congress in Padua. Gobbo was re-elected for the fourth time national secretary, while Tosi replaced Dal Lago as national president. Tosi appeared to be also the standard-bearer of the party in view of the 2010 regional election, along with Zaia.[27][28]

In the 2009 European Parliament election the LV confirmed its strength, by gaining 28.4% and three MEPs: Lorenzo Fontana, a rising star from Verona, Giancarlo Scottà and Mara Bizzotto. The party also won two more provinces, Venice, a stronghold of the left, with Francesca Zaccariotto, and Belluno with Gianpaolo Bottacin.

2010 regional election and aftermath (2010–2012)

In December 2009 The People of Freedom (PdL) determined that the coalition candidate in the 2010 regional election would be a leghista.[29] Subsequently, the national council of Liga Veneta nominated Zaia for President. Tosi, who, as party president, presided the council, tried to be himself the candidate,[30] and others proposed instead Manzato.[31] However, Zaia had a broader support than Tosi and was unanimously chosen by the council.[32]

In the election Zaia was elected President of Veneto by a landslide, with 60.2% of the vote against 29.1% of his foremost opponent, Giuseppe Bortolussi of the Democratic Party (PD). The election was a triumph for the LV, which was by far the largest party in the region with 35.2% of the vote, up from 14.7% of five years before, and got 20 seats in the Regional Council, up from 11. Zaia was also the most voted President of Veneto since direct elections were introduced in 1995.[33] After the election, Zaia appointed a cabinet including six party members, a majority of whom were tosiani: Roberto Ciambetti (Budget and Local Government), Luca Coletto (Health), Maurizio Conte (Environment), Marino Finozzi (Tourism and International Trade), Franco Manzato (Agriculture) and Daniele Stival (Venetian Identity and Civil Protection).

In the 2011 provincial election of Treviso Muraro was easily re-elected president. The LV won 40.8% of the vote (combined result of party list, 29.6%, and Muraro's personal list, 11.4%), which was an 11.6% gain since the previous provincial election in 2006, but also a 7.7% loss from the 2010 regional election.[34]

In late 2011, after the fall of Berlusconi's government, Lega Nord abandoned the alliance with the PdL. Perceiving that the party was entering a crisis, Giuseppe Covre (a former mayor of Oderzo and MP) and Marzio Favero (mayor of Montebelluna and philosopher) proposed a "Manifesto for the League which will be". In its call for a "cultural revolution" and for a bottom-up restructuring of the party, the document was interpreted as a call for a new leadership, both at national and federal level.[35]

All throughout 2011 the faction around Tosi, close to Roberto Maroni at the federal level, won most provincial congresses in Veneto, including that of Treviso.[36][37]

Party's renewal and reform (2012–2015)

In early April 2012 a corruption scandal hit the "magic circle" around Bossi, who resigned from federal secretary of Lega Nord after 21 years. This had consequences also in Veneto: a national congress was scheduled for 2–3 June 2012 and, after fourteen years on top, Gobbo decided to step down from secretary.[38] Tosi, just re-elected mayor of Verona with 57.4% of the vote (three times his closest opponent Michele Bertucco, who got a mere 22.8%),[39][40] started his bid for the party's national leadership.[41][42][43] Massimo Bitonci, a darling of Venetists and long-time rival of Tosi, was chosen as joint candidate by Venetists and Gobbo's loyalists.[44][45] On 3 June 2012 Tosi was elected secretary with 57% of the vote (236 delegates out of 414), while Bitonci had 43% (178 delegates).[46] On 9 June the LV's national council elected Luca Baggio, an ally of Tosi, as national president. Zaia warned Tosi that if he were not to be a unifying leader a split might occur.[47]

On 1 July 2012 Maroni was elected federal secretary during a federal congress presided by Zaia. The Venetian delegates elected also four members to the federal council: Finozzi (tosiano), Bitonci (Venetist, anti-Tosi), Stival (Venetist, tosiano) and Dal Lago (Venetist, independent).[48][49] A few days later Maroni appointed Federico Caner, who was supported by both Tosi and Gobbo, as his vicar.[50] As early as in May 2013 Caner was replaced by Tosi.[51]

At the 2013 general election the LV stopped at 10.5%, almost a record low, resulting in just 5 deputies and 5 senators. Tosi considered this a consequence of the renewed alliance with the PdL (instrumental to Maroni's election as President of Lombardy), while many party bigwigs, including Zaia, criticised his leadership, management of the campaign and selection of candidates.[52][53] Most provincial leaders resigned or were deposed by Tosi, who appointed loyalists.[54][55][56][57] In April the national council of LV, led by Tosi, expelled 35 party members (mostly Venetists or old-guard bossiani), including two regional councillors and a former deputy.[58] In August the dissidents, led by Corrado Callegari, a former deputy, formed Veneto First,[59] which became a separate party in January 2014[60] and welcomed a third councillor in February 2015.[61]

In the 2013 municipal elections the party lost the mayorship of Treviso after 19 years, as Giancarlo Gentilini surrendered to Democrat Giovanni Manildo 55.5% to 44.5%. However, one year later, in the 2014 municipal elections Bitonci was elected mayor of the much bigger city of Padua, a Democratic stronghold, by defeating the incumbent Ivo Rossi 53.5% to 46.5%. The party thus governed two of the three largest cities of Veneto, Verona and Padua. Finally, in the 2014 European Parliament election the LV gained 15.2% and two MEPs, Tosi (who showed his popular support once for all[62] and was soon replaced by Fontana) and Bizzotto.

Road to the 2015 regional election

In the run-up of the 2015 regional election the party was quite divided on alliances and strategies. Zaia wanted to continue the alliance with Forza Italia and the New Centre-Right (the two parties emerged from the break-up of the PdL) and to reinforce it with the creation of a "Zaia List", Tosi wanted the party to run with the sole support of the "Zaia List" and a "Tosi List", while Matteo Salvini, who succeeded to Maroni as federal secretary in 2013, kept an open mind only on Forza Italia and opposed, along with Zaia, any notion of a "Tosi List". Furthermore, while Zaia, supported by Salvini, wanted to renovate the party's group in the Regional Council (in order to get rid of some of his ministers who happened to be tosiani) and have a final say on the compilation of the party's slates, Tosi, who defended the position of long-time regional councillors and ministers, claimed his authority and the autonomy of the LV in relation to the federal party.[63][64][65][66]

In early March the struggle between Tosi and Zaia–Salvini led the former to threaten a run in competition with Zaia in the regional election and Lega Nord's federal council to appoint Dozzo as a mediator between Tosi and Zaia.[67] The internal clashes led three regional councillors to quit the party in the Regional Council: Vittorino Cenci joined Veneto First,[61] while LV's president Baggio and Matteo Toscani launched the pro-Tosi "Venetian Commitment".[68][69] All three disagreed with a perceived party's rightward shift under Salvini, while Cenci contested also Tosi and the party's engagement in southern politics through Us with Salvini (NcS).

After a long struggle between Tosi and Salvini, the latter acknowledged the former's relinquishment from party member, on the grounds that Tosi had refused to ditch his think tank, named "Let's Rebuild the Country", and appointed Dozzo commissioner for the LV.[70][71] Consequently, Tosi decided to run for President against Zaia.[72] Besides Baggio and Toscani, four more regional councillors (Stival, regional minister of Venetian Identity, and Giuseppe Stoppato, who formed, along with former Democrat Diego Bottacin, a group named "Toward North–Venetian People",[73] Conte, regional minister of the Environment,[74] and Andrea Bassi),[75] three deputies, three senators[76] and Muraro (president of the province of Treviso),[77][78] followed Tosi, while two factional leaders, Finozzi (regional minister of Tourism and International Trade) and Bizzotto MEP, chose not to. In the meantime, Venetian Agreement changed its name into "Tosi List for Veneto" (LTV).[79]

2015 regional election and aftermath

The election was a triumph for Zaia, who was re-elected with 50.1% of the vote, and Liga Veneta, which obtained 40.9% of the vote (combined result of official party list, 17.8%, and Zaia's personal list, 23.1%). Tosi and the two lists connected to the LTV won 11.9% and 7.1%, respectively, while other regionalist parties (Independence We Veneto, Venetian Independence, North-East Union, Autonomous Veneto Project and Veneto Confederal State) gained another 6.3% in what was the best result ever for both Venetist parties, which controlled the majority of the Regional Council for the first time, and Liga Veneta itself, which obtained 24 seats out of 51 in it.

After the election, Zaia unveiled his second government, composed of ten ministers, including nine Lighisti: Gianluca Forcolin (Vice President, Budget and Local Government), Luca Coletto (Health and Social Programs), Roberto Marcato (Economic Development and Energy), Elisa De Berti (Publick Works, Infrastructures and Transports), Giuseppe Pan (Agriculture, Hunting and Fishing), Manuela Lanzarin (Social Affairs), Federico Caner (EU Programs, Tourism and International Trade), Gianpaolo Bottacin (Environment and Civil Protection) and Cristiano Corazzari (Culture, City Planning and Security); Elena Donazzan (Education and Labour) represented Forza Italia.

In February 2015, during a national congress, Gianantonio Da Re, a long-time lighista from the province of Treviso, affiliate of Gobbo and now close to Zaia, was elected national secretary. Da Re's election represented a return to normality after the traumatic leadership and ousting of Tosi.[80][81][82][83][84] Subsequently, Bitonci was appointed national president by the party's national council[85][86][87] and, contextually, Fontana was appointed deputy federal secretary by Salvini.[88][89]

After Salvini's re-election as LN federal secretary in the 2017 leadership election (with overwhelming support from Venetians, still grateful for Tosi's ousting), at the party's federal congress on 21 May 2017 three LV members (Fontana, Marcato and Erik Pretto) were elected to the federal council.[90][91][92]

In the 2018 general election the party obtained 32.2% of the vote, its best result ever in a general election, and, under a new electoral law that had re-introduced single-seat constituencies, had 23 deputies (including Bitonci, who had been defeated in the early 2017 municipal election in Padua) and 9 senators elected. After months of negotiations, the LN formed a coalition government with the Five Star Movement (M5S), under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Two LV members were appointed ministers in the government: Erika Stefani at Regional Affairs and Autonomies, and Lorenzo Fontana at Family and Disability.

In the 2019 European Parliament election the party reached 49.9% of the vote.

2020 regional election and aftermath

The regional election was, even more, a triumph for Zaia, who was re-elected for a third conservative term with 76.8% of the vote. Liga Veneta fielded three lists, including the official one, Zaia's personal list and the "Venetian Autonomy List" (comprising also Liga Veneta Repubblica), which obtained 16.9%, 44.6% and 2.4%, respectively. The party, with 33 seats (plus one obtained by the third list), had thus far more than 50% of the seats in the Regional Council.

After the election, Zaia unveiled his third government, composed of eight ministers, including seven Lighisti: Elisa De Berti (Vice President, Legal Affairs, Public Works, Infrastructures and Transports), Francesco Calzavara (Planning, Budget, Patrimony and Local Government), Manuela Lanzarin (Health, Social Affairs and Social Programs), Roberto Marcato (Economic Development, Energy and Special Status for Venice), Federico Caner (EU Programs, Agriculture, Tourism and International Trade), Gianpaolo Bottacin (Environment, Climate and Civil Protection), Cristiano Corazzari (Culture, City Planning, Security, Hunting and Fishing); Elena Donazzan (Education, Formation, Labour and Equal Opportunities) represented Brothers of Italy. LV's Roberto Ciambetti was re-elected President of the Regional Council.

In the 2022 general election the party was reduced to 14.5% of the vote (–17.7pp from 2018), fueling internal conflicts.

In the run-up of the regional congress, to be held in June 2023, Roberto Marcato led the challenge of the party's traditional wing. However, Marcato retired from the race when Franco Manzato, a centrist figure representing mainly the party's old guard from the province of Treviso, emerged as an alternative opposition candidate.[93][94] At the congress, outgoing federal commissioner Alberto Stefani, a loyalist of Salvini, was thus elected secretary with 64.3% of the vote against Manzato's 35.7%,[95] possibly with Zaia's silent support.[96] The congress' result did not silence internal critics, like regional minister Federico Caner[97] and MEP Gianantonio Da Re,[98] who opposed Salvini's focus on southern Italy and his perceived Euroscepticism. Additionally, Caner, along with his colleagues Gianpaolo Bottacin and Roberto Marcato, did not go on stage at the rally of Pontida.[99] In the meantime, former leader Flavio Tosi, who had merged his Tosi List for Veneto into Forza Italia in June 2022[100] and had become that party's regional coordinator in March 2023,[101] started wooing disgruntled LV members into Forza Italia: most notably, splinters have included former Vice President of Veneto Gianluca Forcolin,[102] former senator Gianpaolo Vallardi[103][104] and regional councillor Fabrizio Boron.[105] In March 2024 Gianantonio Da Re, a MEP and former leader, was expelled from the party, of which he had been a member for 42 years, after having frequently criticised Salvini and finally offended him.[106]



Liga Veneta was conceived by Franco Rocchetta and others in the late 1970s. During its first official meeting in Recoaro on 9 December 1979, Achille Tramarin, who was then elected secretary, gave a speech titled Venetian autonomy and Europe: "Today for Venetians the moment has come, after 113 years of Italian unitary colonisation, to take their natural and human resources back, to fight against the wild exploitation that brought poverty, emigration, pollution and uprooting from their culture".[107] European integration was seen as an opportunity to give Veneto its autonomy back.

Rocchetta, who left the party in 1994 after a power struggle and has since become a bitter critic of his former colleagues in the name of pure Venetian nationalism, conceived the LV as a libertarian, secular and Europeanist party.[108] The promotion the re-discovery the Republic of Venice's heritage, traditions, culture, and especially Venetian language, and opposition to the displacement of Mafia inmates in Veneto were key goals of the party since its foundation.[109][110]

The LV is aimed to unite all Venetians who support autonomy for Veneto and federal reform. For this reason, it tends to be a multi-ideological catch-all party, following what Umberto Bossi stated in 1982 to his early followers of Lega Lombarda: "It does not matter how old are you, what your job is and what your political tendency: what matters is that you and we are all Lombard. [...] It is as Lombards that, indeed, that we have a fundamental common goal in that face of which our division in parties should fall behind".[111] While the bulk of the original Lega Lombarda (including Bossi, Roberto Maroni and Marco Formentini) came from the left (Bossi and Maroni were previously active in the Italian Communist Party, Proletarian Democracy and the Greens)[112] and envisioned a centre-left (to some extent social-democratic) party,[113][114] the LV was characterized more as a liberal and centrist party and has always proposed a more libertarian political line.

This difference reflected also its position in Venetian politics: while, in the early 1990s, the League stole votes especially from the Communists and the Italian Socialist Party, in Veneto the LV basically replaced Christian Democracy as dominant political force.[115][116] In fact, even though most of the early members of the party came from the centre-right (Christian Democracy and the Italian Liberal Party), there were also people coming from the left such as Giovanni Meo Zilio, Actionist and Socialist partisan in the Italian resistance movement, who was one of the founding fathers of the party,[117] and Rocchetta himself, a former Republican and, later, Communist.[118][119]

2010–2015 platform

In the run-up to the 2010 regional election, the party released its political platform for the 2010–2015 term.

Its keywords were "innovation" and "modernity". The challenges that Veneto should face in the next decades, said the party, were to enhance "internationalization" in the era of globalization, to overcome the traditional Venetian polycentrism and interpret Veneto as a united and cohesive region: a "European region in Italian land". The program stressed also concepts such as "Europe of the regions", "Europe of citizens", "global Veneto", "openeness toward the world", "green economy", "urban planning" in respect of the environment, "respect for diversity" and "integration" of immigrants, along with the more traditional "think globally, act locally". Along these, the core issues of the party, especially autonomism, low taxes, fight against red tape and promotion of Venetian language and culture, were also included in the program. According to the paper, a strong Veneto as that imagined by the party would be a protagonist of federal reform in Italy and Europe.[120][121]

The LV has opposed nuclear power plants in Veneto, citing the high population density and the fact that the region is already energetically self-sufficient.[122]

Manifesto for a new League

In April 2012 some key members from the province of Treviso, led by Giuseppe Covre and Marzio Favero, proposed a "Manifesto for the League which will be", which was soon endorsed by Roberto Maroni (see above). The text, divided into eighteen points, was aimed at preparing a new course for the party. The proponents wanted to re-launch the federalist structure of Lega Nord, in spite of the centralisation and leadership which had long characterized it. Thus, they highlighted the centrality of members, internal democracy, open debate and frequent congresses. They also wanted a more open party, especially to intellectuals, economic forces, and associations. After many failures in Rome, the party should start building the way toward federalism "outside the Parliament", by forming alliances among regions, provinces and municipalities. The party should also adopt a different language: in fact, the proponents realized how some "xenophobic statements, calls for localistic isolation and invocations of a token traditionalism had damaged the cause and the growth of the League. [...] Local autonomy intended as autarchy is anachronistic, while it must be conceived as a value [...] toward international openness, as the glorious Venetian history tells us!". The League should be able to talk to a larger portion of the electorate, by reclaiming "the Catholic, socialist, liberal, ecc. strains of ideas" and by "irrevocably leaving the rusty alternative between right and left behind": "For too long the League has been stuck in a contradiction. On one side it has presented itself as a movement for institutional reform and, as such, super parties. On the other, it has allowed itself to be absorbed in the right/left dialectic. The real battle today is between idolatry of the state and federalism, between an artificial institution and the real communities. Neither with the right nor with the left: the League is above."[123]

2015–2020 platform

In the run-up of the 2015 regional election the party did not release a platform, leaving room for Luca Zaia's "government program" for the 2015–2020 term. Consistently with Zaia's social-democratic political instincts and his fascination for Tony Blair's New Labour,[124][125] the document had a special focus on labour, welfare and the reform of public services. The platform notably included a commitment to bring forward two referendums, one on autonomy and another on independence.[126]

2020–2025 platform

The platform for the 2020 regional election was very similar from the previous one and, as usual, it was centred on Venetian autonomy.

End-of-life care

Under Zaia's impulse,[127][128][129] the party generally holds social-liberal positions, especially on end-of-life care. In January, a majority of the party's regional councillors, described as "progressive" by news sources, supported a bill that would have regulated assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, under particular conditions. The bill, inspired by a campaign by Associazione Luca Coscioni[130][131] and supported also by the party's regional secretary Alberto Stefani,[132] was however defeated by one single vote in the Regional Council as it was opposed by a large minority of the party's councillors, as well as the party's more conservative allies and one dissenting councillor of the Democratic Party.[133][134][135]


Within the party, there are no formal factions, yet there are some unofficial groupings.

Gian Paolo Gobbo and Luca Zaia have long been the leaders of the wing from Treviso, which has its roots in the original Liga Veneta and is more Venetist in character, while the Verona wing, whose standard-bearers have been Flavio Tosi, Federico Bricolo and Lorenzo Fontana, is more conservative and has stronger links with Lega Lombarda. While Lighisti from Venice are usually closer to Gobbo and Zaia, those from Vicenza and Padua are set somewhere in the middle between Treviso and Verona.

An ideological strain worth of mention is embodied by pure Venetists who stress issues such as Venetian identity and language: they have notably included Massimo Bitonci, Roberto Ciambetti, Stival, Giovanni Furlanetto and Nicola Finco.[136][137]

Gobbo was re-elected secretary in 2007 due to an agreement with Tosi, who was Gobbo's strongest rival for the leadership.[138][139][140] At the 2012 congress Tosi defeated the Venetists' standard-bearer Bitonci, who was supported by 43% of delegates and most MPs.

In 2011 in the party were outraged when Tosi, as mayor of Verona, announced that he was going to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian unification and declared that Italian unity was a good thing.[141] Gobbo promptly disavowed Tosi and confirmed that the party was opposed to any celebration.[142] Tosi was criticised also by other party bigwigs, such as Francesca Martini,[143] while Furlanetto proposed the ejection of Tosi from the party.[138] In early 2012 another friction was caused by Tosi's decision to present a personal list, alongside the party's one, in the forthcoming Verona municipal election and his intention to drop its traditional ally, The People of Freedom.[144] Not only Gobbo opposed the move by Tosi, but he also took the opportunity to describe Tosi's views on Italy and Padania as "heresy".[145]

It is difficult to say who was more conservative or liberal between Tosi and Zaia, who have often exchanged their positions within the party. Tosi was a more traditional conservative-liberal, while Zaia, while being a centrist, has resembled a green-populist position on environmental issues, nuclear power, GMOs, etc. In occasion of the 2011 referendums, Zaia declared his support for three referendums aimed at blocking the return to nuclear energy and the privatisation of water services.[146] Needless to say, Tosi declared himself a "keen nuclearist" and a supporter of the free market instead.[147] At the federal level of the party, Tosi was a long-time ally of Roberto Maroni.[148][149]

Popular support

The party has its strongholds in the provinces of the Pedemontana (40–60% of the vote), that is to say the area at the feet of the Venetian Prealps.

In the 2020 regional election the party ran with two lists (the official one and Luca Zaia's personal list, whose candidates were all members of the party), doing well in most of the region. The best combined result was in Zaia's province of Treviso (68.6%). Treviso was followed by Belluno (64.1%), Vicenza (62.2%), Venice (61.7%), Padua (59.8%), Rovigo (58.6%) and Verona (55.5%).

The electoral results of Liga Veneta in Veneto since 1983 are shown in the tables below.

Regional Council of Veneto
Election year Votes % Seats +/-
1985 112,275 (5th) 3.7
2 / 60
1990 180,676 (5th) 5.9
3 / 60
Increase 1
1995 422,410 (3rd) 16.7
9 / 65
Increase 6
2000 274,472 (4th) 12.0
7 / 60
Decrease 2
2005 337,896 (3rd) 14.7
11 / 60
Increase 4
2010 788,581 (1st) 35.2
20 / 60
Increase 9
2015 427,363 (1st)
329,966 (2nd)
23.1 (Zaia List)
17.8 (LV)
24 / 51
Increase 4
2020 916,087 (1st)
347,832 (2nd)
44.6 (Zaia List)
16.9 (LV)
33 / 51
Increase 9
Chamber of Deputies
Election year Votes % Seats +/-
1983 123,902 (5th) 4.5
1 / 46
Increase 1
1987 96,350 (6th) 3.1
0 / 46
Decrease 1
1992 576,166 (2nd) 17.8
8 / 43
Increase 8
1994 713,730 (2nd) 21.5
23 / 37
Increase 15
1996 928,059 (1st) 29.3
19 / 37
Decrease 4
2001 315,000 (4th) 10.3
9 / 37
Decrease 10
2006 353,257 (4th) 11.1
5 / 49
Decrease 4
2008 830,446 (2nd) 27.1
16 / 50
Increase 11
2013 310,010 (4th) 10.5
5 / 51
Decrease 11
2018 920,368 (1st) 32.2
23 / 50
Increase 18
2022 365,290 (3rd) 14.5
9 / 32
Decrease 14
Senate of the Republic
Election year Votes % Seats +/-
1983 91,171 (7th) 3.7
1 / 23
Increase 1
1987 85,649 (5th) 3.3
0 / 23
Decrease 1
1992 464,410 (2nd) 16.2
4 / 23
Increase 4
1994 with PdL
11 / 23
Increase 7
1996 839,339 (3rd) 30.3
9 / 23
Decrease 2
2001 with CdL
4 / 23
Decrease 5
2006 322,056 (5th) 10.1
3 / 24
Decrease 1
2008 738,230 (3rd) 26.1
7 / 24
Increase 4
2013 228,295 (5th) 11.0
5 / 24
Decrease 2
2018 839,586 (1st) 31.8
9 / 24
Increase 4
2022 366,266 (3rd) 14.6
4 / 16
Decrease 5
European Parliament
Election year Votes % Seats +/-
1989 49,904 (9th) 1.7
0 / 87
1994 437,695 (2nd) 15.7
2 / 87
Increase 2
1999 280,328 (4th) 10.7
1 / 87
Decrease 1
2004 389,440 (3rd) 14.1
1 / 78
2009 767,088 (2nd) 28.4
3 / 72
Increase 2
2014 364,477 (3rd) 15.2
2 / 73
Decrease 1
2019 1,234,610 (1st) 49.9
4 / 76
Increase 1


Notable members

One member of LV has served as President of Veneto:

One member of the LV has served as President of the Chamber of Deputies:

Members of the LV have served as Ministers of the Italian Government:

Members of the LV have served as Vice President of Veneto:

Members of the LV have served as President of the Regional Council of Veneto:

Members of the LV have served as federal president of Lega Nord (LN):

A member of the LV has served as leader of the LN in the Chamber of Deputies:

Members of the LV have served as leader of the LN in the Senate:

Members of the LV have served as head of the delegation of LN at the European Parliament:

Members of the LV have served as federal deputy secretary of the LN and Lega:

A member of the LV has served as federal administrative secretary of the LN:

In April 2012 Manuela Dal Lago was appointed member of the triumvirate who replaced Umberto Bossi at the head of the LN and temporarily led the party.[150]

Luciano Gasperini was LN's candidate for President of the Republic in the 1999 presidential election.

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