The two biggest right wing political parties in Italy are to merge, leaders announced March 22. The National Alliance, led by Gianfranco Fini, will merge with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party to become the People of Freedom party, and take over the government. In last year’s elections, the two parties won a combined 38% of the votes.
The National Alliance formally voted yes to the proposed merger at a party congress in Rome. But Fini promised his followers he would not let himself be overshadowed by Prime Minister Berlusconi. “We must guarantee,” he said, “that the People of Freedom is not the party of one person, but of one country.” Some observers suggest that Fini, 57, is readying himself to take over from Berlusconi, 72.
The National Alliance (AN) was born in 1994 as the successor of the Italian Social Movement launched by Benito Mussolini’s supporters after he died in 1945 and his fascist movement was outlawed. Fini once described Mussolini as the greatest statesman of the 20th century, but has since attempted to distance himself from AN’s fascist roots. He recently said that Mussolini’s racial laws which discriminated against Jews were “a shameful page in our history.” (Radio Netherlands, Reuters, March 22)
Sounds superficially good. But Rome’s AN Mayor Gianni Alemanno explicitly split hairs on the question, saying Mussolini’s anti-Semitic laws (adopted at Hitler’s behest) constituted “absolute evil,” but that Fascism itself “was a more complex phenomenon.” And while they express contrition over the Fascist era’s anti-Semitic legacy, the ruling rightist coalition has displayed its own distinctly fascistic behavior where the Roma are concerned.
See our last post on the worldwide fascist resurgence