By Katie Engelhart - Monday, February 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
A softer brand of fascism makes a comeback in Italy
Last week, sombre crowds gathered in capital cities across Europe to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel firmly atoned, in a podcast, for her country’s wartime past.
At a memorial in Milan, Silvio Berlusconi appeared far less contrite. Rather, the former Italian prime minister used the occasion to celebrate Benito Mussolini’s wartime alliance with Adolf Hitler. Berlusconi cheered the Fascist dictator for his muscular leadership—and dismissed his pact with Hitler as a half-hearted political manoeuvre. “The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini,” Berlusconi granted. But “in so many other ways” Mussolini “did well.”
By Susan Mohammad - Friday, April 10, 2009 at 8:00 AM - 1 Comment
Italy’s Berlusconi unites the right, with him at the centre
Last weekend’s spectacular $5-million, three-day event in Rome uniting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party with Alleanza Nazionale, the post-Fascist heirs of Mussolini’s blackshirts, was designed to fete the historic consolidation of a conservative force in Italy. But the celebration marking the creation of the centre-right People of Freedom Party (PDL), in practice, served instead as a podium for the power-hungry prime minister to state his plans for even more authority, arguing he needed it to help modernize Italy and give it a more stable government.
As the first elected head of the PDL (a one-horse race, since Berlusconi was the only nominee), the 72-year-old prime minister used his speech to 6,000 of the right-wing party’s supporters to say he wanted to change the constitution to give him more power—“even without” the involvement of the opposition. While Berlusconi has yet to spell out exactly what these powers are beyond wanting to appoint and fire ministers as he pleases, he also wants to reform the president’s largely ceremonial role to resemble a French-American model, and make the president elected directly by the people. Political analysts say Berlusconi wants to increase the president’s role to include powers beyond dissolving parliament and calling elections, such as proposing laws and forging foreign policy, because he wants the job for himself when his term as PM ends in 2013.