Socialist Worker

Crooks and racists vie for office in Italian elections

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2593

Silvio Berlusconi is using anti-migrant racism to stage a comeback

Silvio Berlusconi is using anti-migrant racism to stage a comeback (Pic: EPP)


Some 119 demonstrations took place in Italy last Saturday in the run up to the country’s election on Sunday.

In Rome tens of thousands of people marched to stand up to fascism. And in Milan thousands protested against a 20,000-strong rally of the right wing Northern League.

Billionaire crook Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and his main ally, the Northern League’s Matteo Salvini, have spent the campaign seeing who can promise to expel the most migrants.

Berlusconi is campaigning to form a coalition with the League and the Brothers of Italy, who have their roots in Mussolini’s fascists.

He is bizarrely presenting himself as a moderate conservative who could tame the extremes.

He was convicted of tax fraud in 2013 and cannot stand for office.

In this campaign Berlusconi has said, “We have to prevent racism taking root by expelling, in a humane way, all the illegals and returning a sense of security to Italians”.

Migration became the dominant theme in the election when a fascist went on a shooting spree in the central Italian town of Macerata, wounding six Africans.

He carried a candle with an image of Mussolini with him. Some 20,000 people came out to protest, but far right violence is on the rise.

When it emerged that the shooter was a former local election candidate of the League, Salvini blamed the incident on the rise in migration.

Attilio Fontana, the League’s candidate for governor of the Lombardy region, called for the defence of the “white race”.

Electoral collapse looks likely for the centre left Democratic Party, which has led a coalition government since 2013. It came to office because voters rejected austerity, but the party pursued cuts.

Matteo Renzi, the former Democratic Party prime minister, is seeking to get back in. He resigned in 2016 after voters rejected his pro-business changes to the constitution.

Caretaker prime minister Paolo Gentiloni spoke at the anti-racist protest in Rome last Saturday.

At the same time there was a protest by thousands of unemployed people, metal workers, youth groups and housing activists. It was against the government “reforms” that make it easier to lay off workers.

The Five Star movement may emerge as the largest single party in parliament but has said it won’t go into coalition. It also has been using anti-migrant rhetoric. This party that says it is anti-corruption has had to expel 15 candidates either because they were corrupt or freemasons—or both.

For example it was discovered that a candidate in Lazio had appeared in a video with an organised crime boss and was paying only £6 a month to rent a council flat.

All of the parties except the League have toned down or reversed their anti-EU rhetoric during the campaign.

The failure of the centre left has opened up a space that will most likely be filled by some form of anti-migrant racism winning the election.


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