The leaders of Italy’s League party say one of the movement’s longtime leaders and a former three-time Cabinet minister, Roberto Maroni, has passed away.
Roberto Maroni who worked as a longtime leader of the right-wing Northern League party and a cabinet minister in ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s three governments has passed away on Tuesday at age 67, League leaders and the premier has also said. State-run RAI television has also cited a family statement saying Maroni died at 4 a.m. after a long illness.
Roberto Maroni Legacy and Contributions
Maroni served as the longtime associate for the Northern League founder Umberto Bossi and was secretary of the party as it grew from a northern secessionist movement into a key ally in successive conservative governments, which dates from Berlusconi’s rise in politics in the early 1990s.
The party under current leader Matteo Salvini has also dropped “Northern” from the name in a bid to expand its geographic appeal and downplay a past that many saw as alienating Italy’s poorer south, and is now a coalition partner in Premier Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government.
A lawyer, Maroni has also served as interior minister in Berlusconi’s first 1994-1995 government, labor minister in his second government in 2001, and interior minister again in his third and final government in 2008-2011. He was an accomplished pianist and played in a band in his hometown, Varese. In a statement Tuesday and later at a government press conference, Meloni has also praised Maroni as a friend who had served the country with “good sense and concreteness.”
Maroni has also represented the centrist wing of the party that was sometimes at odds with Salvini’s more firebrand leadership, but the League leader on Tuesday praised his lifetime of service to the party and country. “A great secretary, super minister, great governor and League member forever,” Salvini has also tweeted. “He is someone who gave so much to the country, to Italy, to the League, to his community,” Salvini reported to RTL radio.
Accolades also poured in from across the political spectrum, with the former center-left Premier Paolo Gentiloni, now European economy commissioned praising Maroni’s passion, dedication, and loyalty. “A loyal, kind, and committed man,” he tweeted. A funeral was planned for Friday in Varese, Salvini said.