Berlusconi's senators try to bring fascism back to Italian politics

A group of Italian senators is pressing for a decades-old ban on Benito Mussolini's Fascist party to be lifted in a move that has provoked fierce condemnation from political opponents and Jewish leaders.

The five members of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling People of Liberty (Pdl) party, led by Senator Cristano De Eccher, presented a bill to the Italian senate arguing that a constitutional rule that prohibits the "reorganisation in any form [of the dissolved Fascist party]", is outdated and should be scrapped.

Mussolini rose to power after the end of the First World War and by the mid-1920s established a fascist dictatorship. His National Fascist Party ruled the country until 1943 and was a key ally of Nazi Germany. The party's reformation has been explicitly banned since the 1950s, when Italy's post-war constitution also outlawed Fascist symbols.

Senate Speaker Renato Schifani, also of the Pdl, was said to be "aghast" at the attempt to lift the ban, says a report by the news agency Ansa.

Emanuele Fiano, the Democratic Party's home affairs spokesman, told The Independent: "A founding basis of this Italian republic is its opposition to fascism. The laws banning the reformation of the Fascist party or apologising for it should remain untouchable."

Roberto Pacifici, leader of the Jewish Community of Rome, said: "It's an extremely worrying proposal." James Walston, a politics professor at the American University in Rome, said: "This is another manifestation of the long-term rehabilitation of fascism in Italy. It might not happen soon, it might never happen, but it's been under way since 1994. People are setting out to revise Italian history." In 1994, during Mr Berlusconi's first term as Prime Minister, direct heirs to Mussolini's Fascist party were given jobs in government for the first time since the party was banned.

One neo-Fascist was Mirko Tremaglia, the Minister for Italians Abroad, who as a young man defended Mussolini's Salo' Italian Social Republic, as recently as 2002 lamented the Second World War pivotal defeat of the Italians and the Afrika Korps at El Alamein. A senior figure in Mr Berlusconi's present cabinet, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa, is also often accused of being a neo-Fascist. He was part of the old National Alliance party, which had its roots in the neo-Fascist Italian Social Movement formed by Mussolini supporters in 1946.

The present Speaker of the lower house, Gianfranco Fini, was head of the National Alliance, until it merged with Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia two years ago. But over a period of several years he has renounced his former neo-Fascist sympathies and appears to have made a remarkable transition to a modern-right politician.

His description in 2003 of the "absolute evil" of the fascist era, prompted Mussolini's granddaughter, Alessandra, to quit the party to form her own Social Action grouping with other disgruntled right-wingers.

Press reports suggest that a senator from Mr Fini's own small centre-right Fli (Future and Freedom) party signed the proposal but was immediately threatened with expulsion from the party unless he rescinded his support for the initiative.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones