Brothers of Italy politician who collects fascist relics elected president of the Senate | Italy
A Brethren of Italy politician who collects fascist memorabilia has been elected speaker of the upper house of parliament in the first step towards forming Italy’s most right-wing government since World War II.
Ignazio La Russa, a former defense minister whose father was secretary of Benito Mussolini’s fascist party, co-founded Brothers of Italy alongside leader Giorgia Meloni, who is set to become prime minister of a government that includes the League far right of Matteo Salvini and the far right League of Silvio Berlusconi. Forza Italy.
The vote for the election of a president in the lower house, which could go to Riccardo Molinari of the League, will enter a second round on Thursday afternoon.
The new parliament was opened by Liliana Segre, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor and senator for life who, in a speech that sparked a standing ovation, reminded parliamentarians of the 100th anniversary of Mussolini’s march on Rome more later this month.
“It is impossible for me not to feel a kind of dizziness when I remember that the same little girl who, on a day like this in 1938, desolate and lost, was forced by racist laws to leave her desk empty at elementary school, is now, by a strange twist of fate, in the senate’s most prestigious office,” said Segre, who went on to speak out against discrimination and hatred.
Like Meloni, La Russa, whose middle name is Benito, began his political career with the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, the party created in 1946 by supporters of Mussolini.
In recent days, a video of him has emerged showing fascist relics, including photos, medals and a statue of Mussolini, on display at his home. The clip was shot in 2018. “There is even a communist symbol, but we put it under the feet [of the Mussolini statue]“La Russa explains in the video.
Meloni tried to steer the Brothers of Italy away from its neo-fascist roots, posting a video in August saying the party had “put fascism back in history” decades ago. Instead, she presents the party as a conservative champion of patriotism and claimed last year that there were no “nostalgic, racist or anti-Semitic fascists in the DNA of the Brothers of Italy”.
In September, La Russa’s brother Romano, an adviser to the Brothers of Italy in the Lombardy region, was filmed giving the fascist salute with stiff arms at the funeral of a far-right activist. The party’s response was that “it was inviting others to lower their outstretched arms”.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella will begin formal consultations with political parties on October 19 or 20, with Meloni expected to be given the mandate to form a new government a few days later. The alliance is currently working on its cabinet list and a Meloni-led government is expected to be sworn in by the end of the month.