A video that has been widely shared on social media platforms shows protesters chanting “fascists, fascists” at Gerarda Russo as she addresses the crowd from a podium. Midway through her speech Russo appears to shout into her microphone “I am a fascist!”, causing the protesters to erupt with cries of “fascist!” and “proud to be a fascist!”.
Valerio Tramutoli, the candidate for the new left-wing party Basilicata Possibile, has said he intends to file a complaint with the Potenza public prosecutor’s office against Russo on grounds of fascist apologism.
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Russo later published a longer version of the video on her Facebook page which she said provided context for her comments, and dismissed her critics as “cowards” and “boys”.
“My statement was, ‘If being fascist means being pro the people, then I’m a fascist,’ which is equivalent to saying: ‘If being populist means being pro the people then I’m a populist’,” she wrote.
“It was a response to young people who do not know the meaning of democracy, protesting during the rally and accusing me of being a fascist.
“You’ve also called me racist, xenophobic and populist … I am proud to be Italian, just like Matteo Salvini has said.”
The League is forecast to perform well in the upcoming European parliamentary elections which will take place between May 23 and 26, 2019.
The Basilicata regional elections will be held on March 24.