Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, stated on Tuesday that her Brothers of Italy party has no “nostalgia for fascism” and was responding to criticism that it hasn’t sufficiently broken with its neofascist past.
On the day Italy commemorates the end of the German occupation during World War Two and the victory of partisan resistance fighters over the Nazis and their fascist collaborators, Meloni addressed the topic in a letter to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“For many years now, and as any honest observer recognises, the parties representing the right in Parliament have declared their incompatibility with any nostalgia for fascism,” Meloni wrote.
Brothers of Italy traces its roots to the Italian Social Movement (MSI), formed in 1946 as a direct heir of Benito Mussolini’s blackshirts, and the legacy of fascism continues to torment Italy almost 80 years after the end of the war.
Meloni’s letter came the day after ANPI, a group representing former wartime partisans, had urged Meloni to disassociate herself from fascism, and followed a recent outcry triggered by Senate Speaker Ignazio La Russa.
La Russa, a senior Brothers of Italy figure who began his career in the MSI and collects Mussolini memorabilia, appeared to diminish the importance of the partisan Resistance by saying the postwar Constitution made no mention of antifascism.
Meloni clearly distanced herself from La Russa’s comments.
“The fundamental fruit of 25 April was, and undoubtedly remains, the affirmation of democratic values, which fascism had trampled upon and which we find carved into the Republican Constitution,” she said.
However, some opponents said she had not gone far enough.
“What she should do is have the courage to say clearly and definitively ‘we are antifascist'”, said Giuseppe Sala, the centre-left mayor of Milan.
Meloni compares her party to the U.S. Republican Party and Britain’s Conservative Party, with the defence of national identity, traditional family and cultural heritage among the top issues on its political agenda.