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arguing that a constitutional rule that prohibits the "reorganisation in any form [of the dissolved Fascist party]", is outdated and should be scrapped.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.

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Sport
Pablo Larrazabal jumps into a pond in Kuala Lumpur to escape a swarm of hornets
videoSpain's Pablo Larrazabal's had a refreshing solution
VIDEO
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Sport
Jonathan Trott will take a second break from cricket after suffering a repeat of the stress-related illness that forced him out of the Ashes tour of Australia
sport
Life & Style
life
Life & Style
fashion
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit