Echoes of Mussolini


Will Italy return to its fascist past? It seems to be heading in that direction. At the end of January, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced to the public that it was his “grand political dream” to combine Italy’s middle-right parties into a single stable party (Die Welt, February 1).

Included in this single party would be the National Alliance (the fascist party Benito Mussolini once led) and the Catholic-dominated Union of Christian and Center Democrats. The combined party would be based on the coalition Berlusconi formed 11 years ago and would be united in a common cause against its opposition.

“With a common program and common values, a single middle-right party would be neither impossible nor unimaginable,” said Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, leader of the National Alliance (ibid.).

What those common values were was not specifically stated, but it is well known that Berlusconi, leader of the Forza Italia party, downplayed Mussolini’s actions. In an interview published in the Spectator on Sept. 13, 2003, Berlusconi stated, “Mussolini did not murder anyone. Mussolini sent people on holiday to confine them [to small islands].” (He failed to mention that Mussolini also sent Italian Jews to Hitler’s concentration camps.)

Though facing corruption charges, Berlusconi uses his ruthless grip over the media to reinforce his political power. The billionaire and richest man in Italy controls 90 percent of Italy’s free-to-air television and has used the media to his advantage by dominating air time during elections and even canceling the shows of his harshest critics.

As opposition parties grow in influence, watch the right-wing parties band together to maintain their power. With their media influence, it would not be hard for the fascist-leaning parties to maintain control in Italy’s government and return Italy to fascist values.

For more on this, visit and see our two-part article series “Fascism Revives!” in the June and July 2000 issues under “Issue Archives.”