Fast-Growing Separatist Party Gains in Italy

ITALY'S separatist Northern League, the country's fastest rising political group, has come to power in a city council for the first time.

The backing of the ex-Communist Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) helped install the League's candidate, Raimondo Fassa, Saturday night as mayor in Varese, a League stronghold in the northern Lombardy region.

The League won 17 seats out of 40 on the council, and Mr. Fassa was elected with the support of three PDS council members plus one from the small Republican Party. Council members struggled to agree on a mayor following elections last month in which the League emerged as the largest party but failed to secure an absolute majority.

Economic crisis, rising crime, and a corruption scandal embracing all the major parties have spurred the rise of the League, a protest party that advocates dividing Italy into three parts in a loose federal structure.

Some political analysts believe the League's alliance with the PDS is a model that could provide a potential alternative to the ruling four-party coalition government.

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