Italy: a far-right politician elected president of the Senate

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Facebook / Ignazio Russia

Ignazio La Russa, a Brothers of Italy politician who collects fascist memorabilia, was elected speaker of the upper house of parliament while Lorenzo Fontana, deputy secretary of the conservative and anti-immigrant Lega party, was elected speaker of the House Italian deputies.

Both appointments caused a stir.

The Senate president was elected Thursday at the opening of Italy’s new parliament with Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre presiding over the first session.

La Russa is a former defense minister whose father was secretary of Benito Mussolini’s fascist party. The new president – and therefore the second-highest-ranking government official – also co-founded Brothers of Italy alongside leader Giorgia Meloni, who is set to become prime minister in Italy’s most right-wing government since World War II, which will include Matteo Salvini. . Far-right league and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

A video of La Russa at his home in Milan filmed in 2018 and published on the Corriere della Sera, showed that he was collecting Mussolini memorabilia. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, he suggested replacing handshakes with the fascist Roman salute.

La Russa’s brother Romano, an adviser to the Brothers of Italy in the Lombardy region, was filmed giving the stiff-armed fascist salute at the funeral of a far-right activist in September. The party had said that “he invited others to lower their outstretched arms”.

Mussolini ruled Italy for more than two decades, allying it with Nazi Germany and enacting anti-Semitic laws that eventually led to the death of nearly 6,000 Italian Jews in camps.

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.

Fontana’s election on Friday prompted some senators to protest by holding up a banner during the vote that read “No to a homophobic and pro-Putin president.”

The politician has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and even condemned the sanctions against Moscow. In 2016, he supported the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.

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