In the months before the Italian elections there was great concern that there might be a resurgence of support for fascist parties. There is certainly potential for such fear to become real: the economic and political crisis, strong popular dissatisfaction, unemployment, and widespread superficial racism. In this article, we look at the electoral results of the different Italian neo-fascist parties, while also charting recent events involving far right representatives and movements.
In the months before the elections there was great concern that there might be a resurgence of support for fascist parties. Not for the fascist-turned-respectable right-wing party Alleanza Nazionale (now divided between Popolo della Libertà, Futuro & Libertà and Fratelli d’Italia), but for the neofascists like CasaPound, La Destra and the older Forza Nuova and Fiamma Tricolore.
There is certainly potential for such fear to become real: the economic and political crisis, a left-wing party with no interest in citizens’ issues, strong popular dissatisfaction that has developed into many struggles and fights, a very large and growing anti-political party, unemployment, wasted potential of youth, and widespread superficial racism (the Northern League is now 22 years old).
Here is a list of some significant events involving far right representatives and movements, and some reactions in the international media.
• December 2011: the Florence racist massacre showed everyone that neofascists were still active in Italy.
• 2012: the Italian media gave some space to the Greek movement Golden Dawn and an Italian branch of the Greek neo-nazi party appeared, but it has not been officially recognized by the Greek Golden Dawn and it seems not to have any influence.
• Early 2012: Italy discovered – thanks to an inquiry by Italian newspaper l’Unità – that its consul general in Osaka, Mario Vattani, took part in CasaPound events with his far right band “Sotto fascia semplice”. He was recalled. (Sources Telegraph and Worldcrunch).
• 16 April 2012: Luigi Di Stefano was invited – by a PdL member of parliament whose name he strangely did not remember – to submit a report about the Marò case to parliament. Not only is he not an engineer as he claimed, he is also a CasaPound national representative and father of Simone Di Stefano, who was running as CasaPound candidate for governor in Lazio. CasaPound is still campaigning to bring the two marines back to Italy. In January 2013, Simone Di Stefano shook hands with Grillo and had a discussion with him and CasaPound cashed in what seemed like a positive endorsement from Grillo. Di Stefano later took part in an official political debate on Sky24, as a equal with all other candidates for the regional elections.
• 11 August 2012: in Affile a memorial was dedicated to Rodolfo Graziani, a fascist war criminal. The news was widely reported abroad, but in Italy it did not have the same sensational effect and appalled reaction (BBC and New York Times).
• October 2012: Le Monde presented an online documentary “La duce vita” which investigated Mussolini’s heritage in his home town.
• 24 November 2012: about two thousand CasaPound activists gathered in Rome to demonstrate against austerity measures taken by the government.
• 1 January 2013: the Guardian looked into the extent to which Mussolini is still revered by Italians and to what extent this fascination involves politics. It does, and even “the mayor of Rome’s 17-year-old son was photographed on holiday in 2012 giving a straight-armed fascist salute with friends”.
• January 2013: police arrested CasaPound activists from Naples after a long inquiry concerning various attacks since the spring of 2011.
• 27 January 2013: during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Museum of Shoah, Berlusconi dropped a broad hint to all right-leaning voters when he said that “Mussolini also did many good things”. This was picked up by many of the international media (New York Times – Neue Zuercher Zeitung – Guardian).
• 22 February 2013: CasaPound activists interrupted the concluding meeting of Sandro Ruotolo, a journalist from Il Fatto Quotidiano, running for Rivoluzione Civile in the national elections. He claimed to be an anti-fascist and refused to shake hands with a CasaPound representative.
Far right parties’ election results
The elections were a good litmus test of the true extent of neofascism in Italy and of the real impact of nostalgia for Mussolini.
Historically, the MSI (the party which from 1946 to 1995 brought together all neofascists) had an average of 2 million voters. When the more respectable Alleanza Nazionale took its place, the neofascists became Berlusconi’s allies in parliament, and the number of voters and seats increased markedly. The radical neofascists did not feel represented, though, so they created other parties.
This is how the radical neofascist parties did in the elections: La Destra 0.7%, Forza Nuova 0.2%, CasaPound Italia 0.1%, Fiamma Tricolore 0.1%. They polled around 1.1% of the electorate which comes to about 400,000 votes. Five years ago La Destra, Fiamma Tricolore and Forza Nuova together polled rather more: 994,000 votes.
Even in Lazio, where these movements originated, and where regional elections were also held, the vote was pathetic. CasaPound got 18,487 votes (0.65%), Forza Nuova and Fiamma Tricolore got 1,200 each (0.35%). This comes to about 4,000 votes, about 1.50% of the total.
Adding the radical neofascist votes to those of the ex-Alleanza Nazionale Fratelli d’Italia (666,035 – 1.95%) and Futuro & Libertà (159,429 – 0.46%), the total is about 1.2 million. That’s the electoral size of neofascism, more or less, in Italy in 2013.
Despite such poor results in the recent elections, though, far right violence against left-wing activists, migrants and gay people is still striking hard, according to the up-to-date list of fascist attacks collated by the ECN network.