Italy’s right-wing Northern League party has elected Roberto Maroni as its new leader, replacing Umberto Bossi, who was forced to resign under a corruption scandal.

A former Interior minister, Maroni vowed to clean up the party, which was a coalition partner in the former government of Silvio Berlusconi and is now the biggest opposition party in parliament.

We have gone through some difficult moments, and it will not be easy to win back the support of those who are no longer voting for us, because they say we are like every other party, Maroni told a crowd of supporters.

The Northern League, which has long advocated for the autonomy -- even secession -- of Italy’s wealthier north, opposes the economic reform/austerity program of Prime Minister Mario Monti and also calls for cutting back on subsidizing the country’s impoverished south.

Maroni even compared the chronic economic problems in southern Italy to the current crisis in Greece.