Riots put Italian government under pressure to ban neo-fascist groups

Italy's government was under growing pressure on Monday to ban groups like the neo-fascist Forza Nuova after violence followed weekend protests against vaccines and the country’s green pass health certificate.

Far-right groups are thought to be behind violence at 'No Green pass' protests in Rome.
Far-right groups are thought to be behind violence at 'No Green pass' protests in Rome on October 9th, 2021. Photo: Filippo Monteforte /AFP

On Monday the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) presented a motion in parliament calling on Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s administration to dissolve Forza Nuova and all other fascist-inspired political movements in the country.

“We hope that all genuinely democratic political forces will sign… The time has come to put an end to ambiguities regarding fascism,” PD said in a statement.

IN PICTURES: Demonstrators and far right clash with police in Rome after green pass protest

While ‘apology for fascism’ is legally recognised as a crime in Italy, groups like Forza Nuova are allowed to operate.

Along with CasaPound, Forza Nuova is the main neo-fascist organisation active in Italy and is known for violence against immigrants and police.

Most recently, the group has been involved in several protests against the use of Italy’s green pass, with leading members of the group addressing crowds in Rome during demonstrations before rampaging through the city.

Leader of Forza Nuova Giuliano Castellino speaks on stage during a demonstration against the expansion of the green pass in Rome on July 27th, 2021. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Twelve people including Forza Nuova leaders were arrested and 38 police officers were injured on Saturday after protests descended into violence, as one group broke into the CGIL trade union building and others attempted to reach Palazzo Chigi, which houses the prime minister’s office.

While police stopped rioters from reaching Palazzo Chigi using water cannon and tear gas, video footage appeared to show a small number of officers overwhelmed by a violent mob using sticks and metal bars to smash their way into the CGIL building.

READ ALSO: Anti-vax protesters in Rome target PM’s office and trade union headquarters

Dozens of rioters also attacked the accident and emergency unit at Rome’s Policlinico Umberto I hospital, forcing health workers to barricade themselves inside, as one nurse was reportedly hit with a bottle.

After meeting Draghi on Monday, CGIL leader Maurizio Landini said the government had pledged to discuss the dissolution of Forza Nuova in the coming days, Reuters reports. 

“The prime minister has expressed the solidarity of the government and the commitment of all institutions to prevent the return of a past we don’t want,” Landini said.

“All those groups that refer to fascism must be dissolved, and now is the time to say so clearly.”

Two separate investigations into the riots in the capital have been opened by prosecutors, Italian media reported on Monday.

The violence was widely condemned by politicians, including by Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, which is often accused of having close links to neo-fascist groups and is known for recently putting forward Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s granddaughter and great-grandson as candidates in local and European elections.

Forza Nuova’s leaders were unapologetic, releasing a statement on Monday that read: “The popular revolution will not stop, with or without us, until the green pass is definitively withdrawn.”

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Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

An Italian centre-left election pact broke down on Sunday just days after it was formed, leaving the path to power clear for the hard-right coalition.

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

The alliance between Italian centre-left parties was left in disarray on Sunday night, potentially meaning a landslide victory for the hard-right coalition at early general elections in September.

The leader of the centrist Azione party withdrew support for the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) just five days after the two joined forces, saying it could not work with left-wingers brought in to boost the alliance.

Carlo Calenda, leader of Azione, withdrew his support on Sunday after PD made another pact with smaller left-wing parties including the radical Sinistra Italiana, and new green party Europa Verde.

“You cannot explain (to voters) that to defend the constitution you make a pact with people you know you will never govern with,” Calenda told newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The news was greeted with jubilation by hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini, who tweeted: “On the left chaos and everyone against everyone!”

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neofascist Brothers of Italy party (FdI) mocked a “new twist in the soap opera of the centre-left.”

READ ALSO: Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

Analyists predict the centre-left split could hand the right-wing bloc a landslide victory at the election on September 25th, with Meloni tipped to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni has a strong alliance with Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Letta is struggling to bring together the disparate  progressive parties.

The PD is neck and neck with Brothers of Italy in the latest opinion polls, but even in partnership with Azione, the group most recently polled at 33.6 percent, compared with 46.4 percent for the right.

Political commentators said the only hope PD has now of posing a credible threat to the right-wing alliance would be by partnering with the Five Star Movement.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

However, Letta has repeatedly said this is out of the question, as he blames M5S for triggering the political crisis that brought down Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government.

“Either PD eats its hat and seeks alliance with M5S to defeat the right-wing coalition, or it’s hard to see how the right can possibly lose the forthcoming election,” Dr Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey in England, tweeted on Sunday.

Early elections were called after Draghi resigned in late July. His government currently remains in place in a caretaker role.