Obituary: Giuseppe Tatarella

GIUSEPPE TATARELLA never tired of explaining that he was not a Fascist. Thirty-plus years as a member of the neo-Fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano, and the post-Fascist Alleanza Nazionale party which he helped to create would seem to give the lie to this, but Tatarella was adamant: "I am a nationalist, a Catholic and a democrat," he said in his last interview, which appeared in Il Giornale the day after his death.

His choice of political affiliation, he insisted, was due not so much to right-wing leanings, but to his strong anti-Communist sentiments. It must have hurt, therefore, when, as Communications Minister in the short- lived government led by Silvio Berlusconi in 1994, he was snubbed by an EU colleague who refused to shake his hand, and when Italo-Israeli relations grew chilly because of his presence in the administration.

In Italy, this genial, dishevelled politician, his glasses forever perched on his balding pate, encountered fewer prejudices. He was credited with being the mastermind behind "la svolta", the turn-around which took the MSI out of the political doghouse and into the parliamentary mainstream in 1994 when the party was transformed into the Alleanza Nazionale. He was dubbed "Minister of Harmony" for his tireless mediating between the squabbling parties which made up Berlusconi's government. "He was a friend, a loyal ally, and a champion of the moderate, democratic right," said Berlusconi.

Tatarella was born in Cerignola, Puglia, a "red" enclave in Italy's poor south-east, and it was there that he took his first political steps, heading the local extreme-right youth movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and moving on to become the secretary of the regional branch of the MSI. In 1970 he was elected to the Puglia regional council and in 1979 became an MP, retaining his seat in parliament ever after. After his stint in government, he became Alleanza Nazionale whip in the Lower House.

In the 1960s, he founded the weekly Puglia D'Oggi ("Puglia Today"). In 1996 he took over the Naples-based daily Il Roma, which he edited until his death.

Unfazed by severe cirrhosis of the liver brought on by viral hepatitis, the indefatigable Tatarella continued his editorial work and political battles as he waited his turn - never pulling any strings to move up the waiting list, said his surgeon Mauro Salizzoni of the Molinette hospital in Turin, under whose knife Tatarella died - for a liver transplant. In his final interview, this right-wing moderate talked of "going beyond the Polo per le liberta", the centre-right alliance grouping of Berlusconi's Forza Italia, Alleanza Nazionale and myriad smaller parties, to attract the support of centrally-inclined wavering voters.

"I want to push ahead at all costs with my political work," Tatarella confided to Dr Salizzoni before suffering a heart attack. "I'm quite calm about this transplant: it will be the beginning of my rebirth."

Giuseppe Tatarella, politician and journalist: born Cerignola, Italy 17 September 1936; married Angela Filipponio; died Turin 8 February 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power