Autonomists for Europe
Autonomists for Europe (Italian: Autonomisti per l'Europa, ApE) was a minor regionalist, Christian-democratic and liberal Italian political party. Founded in 2000 by splinters of Lega Nord as a potentially dangerous competitor, it became a rather marginal force. Its leading members were Vito Gnutti and Domenico Comino, both former Ministers for Lega Nord in the Berlusconi I Cabinet.
The party was started as a federation of regional parties on the example of Lega Nord: Lombardy Lombardy, Future Veneto (which finally merged with Liga Veneta Repubblica to form Veneti d'Europa), Piedmont, Giulian Front (which then re-gained much of its independence), Future Liguria and Tuscanian Homelands. The party was mainly composed by moderate members of Lega Nord who wanted to join forces with Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, at a time when the League was perceived to be closer to the centre-left.
Initially the party had five members in the Chamber of Deputies (Domenico Comino, Mario Lucio Barral, Franca Gambato, Daniele Roscia and Stefano Signorini) and six in the Senate (Vito Gnutti, Roberto Avogadro, Giuseppe Ceccato, Luciano Lago, Luciano Lorenzi and Donato Manfroi). Later, in the Senate, a parliamentarian joined (Walter Bianco) and prior to the 2001 general election the Autonomists formed a group with some members of European Democracy (Giovanni Polidoro, Ortensio Zecchino and Giulio Andreotti), which had split from the Italian People's Party. When Lega Nord formed an alliance with Forza Italia and the other parties of the centre-right, the House of Freedoms, ApE lost its reason of existence.
At that time ApE was almost disbanded and most of its members joined the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC). What remains of the party took part only to local electoral contexts, often under the banner of other larger parties, such as the Italy of Values in Milan. At the national level the party generally supported The Union, the centre-left coalition led by Romano Prodi.