Italian lawmaker resigns over racist chant

Author: AP

Matteo Salvini, a member of the often xenophobic, anti-immigrant Northern
League party, resigned his seat in the lower chamber of Parliament
yesterday. He denied the decision was connected to the scandal.

In the video published by left-leaning daily La Repubblica, Salvini is shown
at a party gathering in June leading a profanity-filled chant often sung by
northern fans at soccer stadiums to denigrate rivals from Naples and other
southern towns.

The Northern League once advocated independence for Italy’s prosperous
northern regions from the less developed south. The party has since
abandoned that demand, hostility toward southerners still runs deep among
its members.

The video sparked calls for Salvini’s resignation and an official apology from
the opposition and even some politicians in Berlusconi’s coalition. In
interviews with Italian media on Wednesday, Salvini said he had stepped down
because he was elected to the European Parliament and had opted for a seat
in that assembly.

He told the SkyTG24 news channel the chant “is something that has been
going around Italy’s stadiums for 40 years … it has nothing to do with
politics.”

Salvini’s resignation doesn’t endanger Berlusconi’s conservative coalition,
which has a comfortable majority in Parliament, but it is a new
embarrassment for the premier as he chairs the Group of Eight meeting that
started Wednesday in L’Aquila.

Berlusconi has already been fending off a scandal over his purported
relationships with young women. The premier has denied all the allegations,
calling them a smear campaign by the left.

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