Rome mayoral candidate promises to name street after fascist politician.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
ROME – A leading candidate in Rome’s mayoral elections is drawing ire from the city’s Jewish community and others by saying that if she wins the June 5 vote she will honor a late Italian journalist and political leader, known for his connection to fascism and racial laws.
Giorgia Meloni, 39, a former government minister and co-founder of the Brothers of Italy political party, said on Sunday that if she won the race to become mayor of Italy’s capital and largest city she would honor Giorgio Almirante by naming a street after him. Meloni made the comments on the 28th anniversary of Almirante’s death.
“When I am elected mayor, I promise to name a street in Rome after a man who was a protagonist in the history of Italy’s political Right,” Meloni said, calling Almirante “a patriot and someone who loved Italy and Italians, and who believed in democracy.”
Meloni is in a close race with populist candidate Virginia Raggi and Center-Left Roberto Giachetti.
The remarks were interpreted by the Italian media as a play to earn right-wing votes and were immediately criticized by supporters of Raggi and Giachetti, as well as by the city’s Jewish community’s leadership.
“There will never be a street in Rome named after anyone who, like Almirante, worked to ‘defend their race’ at the expense of others and never regretted those actions,” Ruth Dureghello, president of the Jewish Community of Rome, said via social media.
In the latest poll, released by Demos two days before Meloni’s comments, Meloni was running a close third, with Raggi earning the support of 30.5 percent of those polled, followed by Giachetti at 24.5% and Meloni at 23.1%.
Other candidates were polling at 12% or less. If no candidate earns at least 50% of the votes, the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff.
Almirante is a controversial figure in Italy, embraced by many on Italy’s far Right and demonized by the Left.
He was a member of Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party who briefly served as minister of culture in the last months of the fascist regime.
He was indicted on charges of ordering the execution of partisans in 1944, but those were dropped when an amnesty was issued after the war ended.
But Almirante is best known as a co-founder of the Italian Social Movement (the party has since changed its name to the National Alliance), a political party built on the rubble of Mussolini’s fascist party with ties to racial laws, anti-Semitism, and political intimidation. Almirante was the party’s general secretary from 1969 to 1987, a few months before his death. He also served in the European Parliament between 1979 and 1988, and in the lower house of Italy’s parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, from 1948 to 1988.