Roberto Calderoli


Roberto Calderoli

Roberto Calderoli (born 18 April 1956) is an Italian politician, a member of the Senate of Italy and formerly the Reforms Minister, and a leading member of the Northern League. He is usually seen as representing the component originating from the right wing and Bergamo, whereas Roberto Maroni represents the area originating from the left wing and Varese.

Career

A native of Bergamo and a dentist like many of his relativies, Calderoli started his political experience with the Lega Lombarda, a precursor of the federated Northern League, of which he was the president in 1993 and national secretary between 1995 and 2002.

Between 1990 and 1995 he sat in the town council in Bergamo, and since 2002 he has been the coordinator of the national secretariat of the Northern League. He was an MP in the Chamber of Deputies between 1992 and 2001, as a representative of the Northern League-Padania, and for a while he was president of the Commission for Social Affairs.

In the 2001 elections he was elected to the Senate of Italy in the first-past-the-post constituency of Albino. He then became the vice-president of the Senate until July 2004, when he was appointed Minister for Institutional Reforms in the place of Umberto Bossi, the longtime leader of the Northern League who had suffered a serious stroke and could not perform his duties. During his mandate, he also wrote a new electoral law based on proportional representation with a strong majority premium rather than plurality voting system, which was first introduced in Italy in 1994 by a referendum. Successively, Calderoli himself criticized the electoral law he wrote by defining it "una porcata" (a load of crap). [ [http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=worldNews&storyid=2007-02-22T173758Z_01_L22573413_RTRUKOT_0_TEXT0.xml] Dead link|date=March 2008]

Role in the "Cartoon Crisis"

During the international crisis sparked by the publishing of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, on February 8 2006, he made statements favourable to usage of force against Muslims and asked for the intervention of Pope Benedict XVI to form a "coalition", referencing the battles of Lepanto and Vienna.

On 15 February 2006, he announced he would wear a T-shirt with the Muhammad cartoons. Later that evening, just after the news broadcast on state flagship television station Rai Uno, during a live interview he said: "I am wearing one of those T-shirts even now", and promptly unbuttoned his shirt, revealing a T-shirt with a caricature emblazoned on it. Though the press reported it to be one of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, it was actually the cartoon published on the France Soir's front page in the February 1st 2006 issue, the very day the same newspaper published the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Actually, Calderoli did not show one of the cartoons that caused the international crisis.

The moment was widely published in Libya (a former colony of Italy), and about 1,000 people gathered for a protest and began throwing rocks and bottles toward the Italian consulate, which they set ablaze. In clashes with the police, at least eleven people died and twenty-five were wounded.

Subsequently, Berlusconi asked Calderoli to resign because his act was against the government's political line, but, in an interview given to Italian newspaper "La Repubblica", Calderoli declared that he would not resign. He eventually gave in to the massive pressure coming from all parties (and lack of support in his own), and resigned on 18 February 2006.

Roberto Calderoli and racism

Following Italy's defeat of France in the 2006 World Cup Final, Calderoli criticized France for having "sacrificed its identity for results by fielding blacks, Muslims and Communists" [http://www.ilgiornale.it/a.pic1?ID=103906] [http://www.tgcom.mediaset.it/mondiali/articoli/articolo318052.shtml] [http://www.mg.co.za/articlepage.aspx?area=/soccer_world_cup_2006/soccer_world_cup_2006_news/&articleid=277113] .

These comments drew many protests from the French embassy, the Italian Green Party (who said that Calderoli is "no better than the Ku Klux Klan") and the Party of Italian Communists among others.

Moreover, Calderoli said centre-left government "would very probably have supported this France with no identity and the headbutts of Zidane".

On June, 2008 Calderoli said in a TV interview: "It is obvious that there are ethnic groups and populations that are more inclined to work and others not. And there is greater predisposition for crime by someone over others." [ [http://qn.quotidiano.net/2008/06/04/94564-calderoli_choc_sono_etnie.shtml Quotidiano Net - Calderoli choc: "Ci sono etnie più predisposte a delinquere" ] ]

References

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4714548.stm BBC: "Italy minister stirs cartoon row"] . 15 February 2006
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4726204.stm BBC: "Ten die in Libya cartoon clash"] . 18 February 2006.
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4727606.stm BBC: "Italy cartoon row minister quits"] . 18 February 2006.
*Nouvel Observateur, 8 February 2006


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