Heirs to Fascism seek far-Right alliance with Matteo Salvini as Italy faces new elections

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She is a staunch admirer of Marine Le Pen in France and Viktor Orban in Hungary, praising the latter for “defending the Christian identity of Europe and saying no to the process of forced Islamisation.”

Her admiration for Mussolini and his 20 years of Fascist rule is clear.

When it came to choosing a location from which to launch her electoral campaign last year, Ms Meloni opted for the town of Latina near Rome, which was founded by Mussolini in 1932 after malarial swamps were drained.

She called for “a naval blockade” against NGO vessels that rescue migrants trying to flee Libya. “If we need to dig trenches, we will dig trenches”, she said, pledging that “no one enters Italy illegally.”

The party even has a Mussolini in its ranks – Rachele Mussolini, a grand daughter of Il Duce, who was captured and executed by partisans as he tried to flee Italy at the end of the war.

If a hard-Right alliance is formed, Brothers of Italy would be the junior partner.

Mr Salvini has managed to more than double support for the League since last year’s general election, when it took 17% of the vote. It is now hovering around 38%. Brothers of Italy, by contrast, can count on around 6% of the national vote.

But together they could be unbeatable.

“Together, the League and Fratelli d’Italia are likely to achieve an outright majority in parliament,” said Mr Santi, from the Eurasia Group.

Such a government would have “an even more virulently nationalist and Eurosceptic orientation compared to the present one, and a similarly problematic economic policy agenda.”

That agenda would include an insistence on big-spending budgets, which will herald more confrontation with the EU over deficit spending rules.

The new government would no longer be reined in by technocrats such as Giuseppe Conte, the current prime minister, or Giovanni Tria, the finance minister, who have advocated a more prudent fiscal policy.

League figures who openly advocate exiting the euro would be emboldened.

Such is Mr Salvini’s charisma and popularity that he is always likely to overshadow Ms Meloni.

He honed his straight-talking man-of-the-people act on the beaches of Italy this summer, posing for selfies in his swimming trunks, taking a turn as a DJ at a beach club in front of gyrating women in bikinis and receiving kisses on the cheek from both male and female fans.

Mr Salvini uses social media to communicate in a way that has never been seen before in Italy.

He sends out a barrage of tweets and Facebook messages every day.

Journalists are bombarded on a daily basis with endless statements, policy announcements and opinions.

If an election is held, Il Capitano, as he is nicknamed, will probably be Italy’s next prime minister.

And by his side, nudging Italy ever more to the Right, will likely be the inheritors of Italy’s disastrous experiment with Fascism.



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