A couple of Italian links.
Berlusconi to the US Congress, 28th February:
For my generation the United States represent a beacon of liberty and economic progress. I shall always thank the United States for saving my country from Fascism and Nazism, at the cost of so many American lives.
Allow me to conclude by sharing a brief story with you. One day, a father took his son to a cemetery, where there lay soldiers who had crossed the ocean to defend our freedom. The father made his son promise eternal respect to those men and the values they represented. The father was my father, the son was me. And I shall never forget that promise.
(Berlusconi was born in 1936 and brought up in Milan, approximately 200 miles from the nearest US cemetery. It may have happened exactly like that, though.)
Democratici di Sinistra (Italy’s main left-wing party):
The Prime Minister … recalled that young Americans died on Italian soil to free Italy from the Nazi and Fascist yoke. What a shame that the Prime Minister signed an electoral pact, only a few days ago, with heirs of those dictatorships – violent enthusiasts for that obscene chapter in European history … [including] even those who have stated publicly that the British and Americans were fighting on the wrong side in World War II.
Berlusconi’s governing coalition consists of three parties: his own Forza Italia, the post-Fascist Alleanza Nazionale and the conservative Catholic Cristiani Democratici Uniti; the xenophobic regionalist Lega Nord is a semi-detached member of the coalition. But this isn’t a story about Alleanza Nazionale; AN these days isn’t much to the left of the Daily Mail, but it’s emphatically not a fascist party. This is about some people who broke with the old, quasi-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano when it turned into Alleanza Nazionale in 1995, and some people who broke with AN when it explicitly repudiated Fascism in 2003. In short, this is about the real fascists.
In the beginning – at least, in 1995 – there was Pino Rauti’s Movimento Sociale – Fiamma Tricolore. Rauti is a fairly serious right-wing subversive, who’s been accused of involvement in neo-fascist terrorism. This is also true of Roberto Fiore, who broke with Rauti in 1997 to form Forza Nuova. In the same year another long-time neo-Fascist named Adriano Tilgher left Rauti’s group to form the Fronte Sociale Nazionale. In 2003, Rauti was himself expelled from the MS-FT and formed something called the Movimento Idea Sociale. In the same year, Alessandra Mussolini (granddaughter of the old bastard) left AN in protest at the party’s break with Fascism, to form a group initially called Libertà di Azione and subsequently called Azione Sociale. Mussolini’s tiny group has since formed a united front with Fiore and Tilgher’s equally tiny groups, under the name of Alternativa Sociale.
So that’s the Italian extreme right: MS-FT (without Rauti), Alternativa Sociale (Mussolini/Fiore/Tilgher) and MIS (Rauti). (There’s also a group called Destra Nazionale – Nuovo MSI, run by a strange guy called Gaetano Saya – but even the headbangers don’t want to have anything to do with him.)
Alternativa Sociale is fighting the April election as a member of Berlusconi’s Casa delle Libertà coalition.
Movimento Sociale – Fiamma Tricolore is fighting the April election as a member of the Casa delle Libertà.
Pino Rauti’s Movimento Idea Sociale is not fighting the April election as a member of the Casa delle Libertà – but hopes to negotiate a stand-down agreement in a few seats.
“I shall always thank the United States for saving my country from Fascism and Nazism”