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POLITICS

Mussolini’s granddaughter tops polls for Rome local election

Rachele Mussolini, the granddaughter of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, has emerged as the most popular candidate in Rome city hall elections, near-final results showed on Wednesday.

Voters wait at a polling station to vote in the municipal elections in Rome.
Voters wait at a polling station to vote in the municipal elections in Rome on October 3rd. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

With counting done in more than 97 percent of polling stations, Mussolini garnered more than 8,200 preference votes after standing for the hard-right Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) party.

The 47-year-old, who will be serving a second term as city councillor, insisted that her surname had nothing to do with her popularity.

READ ALSO: ‘Boars and cockroaches’: Rome’s rubbish and wildlife problem dominates local election

“The person prevails over their surname, however burdensome it is,” she told the La Repubblica newspaper, adding: “I have many left-wing friends.”

Mussolini’s late father, Romano, was a jazz pianist and brother-in-law to actress Sophia Loren. He was Benito Mussolini’s fourth child.

Other descendants of the Italian dictator have gone into politics, all for the right, including Rachele’s step-sister Alessandra Mussolini, a former member of the European Parliament.

Another relative, Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, the dictator’s great-grandson, also stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for Brothers of Italy in the 2019 European parliamentary elections.

“So many people want to put Mussolini on the ballot,” he reportedly said at the time.

Right-wing parties overall fared relatively badly in local elections in Italy on Sunday and Monday, losing mayoral races in key cities such as Milan, Naples and Bologna.

In Rome, a run-off is due to take place on October 17-18 between right-wing candidate Enrico Michetti, a talk radio host, and the centre-left’s Roberto Gualtieri, a former economy minister.

With current mayor Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement out, opinion polls suggest Gualtieri is favourite to win in two weeks’ time.

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COST OF LIVING

Fuel tax cut and help with energy bills: Italy approves inflation aid package

Italy on Thursday night approved new measures worth around 17 billion euros ($17.4 billion) to help families and businesses manage the surging cost of fuel and essentials.

Fuel tax cut and help with energy bills: Italy approves inflation aid package

As expected, the final version of the ‘aiuti-bis‘ decree provides another extension to the existing 30-cents-per-litre cut to fuel duty, more help with energy bills, and a tax cut for workers earning under 35,000 euros a year.

The package also includes further funding for mental health treatment: there’s another 15 million euros for the recently-introduced ‘psychologist bonus’ on top of the 10 million previously allocated.

READ ALSO: What is Italy doing to cut the rising cost of living?

There are also measures to help agricultural firms deal with this year’s severe drought.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi described the new package as an intervention “of incredible proportions”, which corresponds to “a little over 2 points of national GDP”.

However, he said, no changes were made to the national budget to pave the way for the new measures.

The measures will be funded with 14.3 billion euros in higher-than-expected tax revenues this year, and the deployment of funds that have not yet been spent, Economy and Finance Minister Daniele Franco said.

Italy has already budgeted some 35 billion euros since January to soften the impact of rising fuel costs.

The decree is one of the last major acts by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi before an early general election next month.

Elections are set for September 25th but the former European Central Bank chief is staying on in a caretaker role until a new government is formed.

Draghi said the Italian economy was performing better than expected, citing the International Monetary Fund’s estimate of three percent for 2022.

“They say that in 2022, we will grow more than Germany, than France, than the average of the eurozone, more than the United States,” he told a press conference.

But he noted the many problems facing Italy, “from the high cost of living, to inflation, the rise in energy prices and other materials, to supply difficulties, widespread insecurity and, of course political insecurity”.

Inflation hit 8 percent in Italy in June – the most severe spike the country has experienced since 1976.

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