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'Federalism now', Northern League insists

Week of January 17-23 will be key says Bossi

05 January, 14:38
'Federalism now', Northern League insists (ANSA) - Belluno, January 5 - Northern League leader Umberto Bossi on Wednesday insisted that the government must pass its pet federalism project by the end of the month.

Bossi, Premier Silvio Berlusconi's key ally, said the week of January 17-23 would be crucial to get the bill out of a parliamentary commission and on the way to final approval.

"I'm convinced it will pass," he said.

The League, whose heartland is the richer north of Italy, has fought for years to change the country's political geography so that more tax money remains where it is generated.

Critics say its 'fiscal federalism' project will widen the gap between the affluent northern regions and the poorer south, or Mezzogiorno.

Recently Bossi has been saying the federalism law might be the government's last act ahead of a snap election in the spring.

But on Wednesday he said Berlusconi had assured him he had recruited enough centrists to ensure a working majority in the House, where he won a confidence vote by just three votes on December 14.

"Berlusconi's numbers are growing," he said.

A handful of members of the centrist Catholic opposition UDC party on Wednesday denied reports they had gone over to the premier's People of Freedom party.

On Tuesday Berlusconi promised his government would last until the end of its term in 2013.