A candidate for the far-right Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, FdI), which is tipped to come out on top in the September 25th elections, has been suspended for praising Hitler, the party said on Tuesday.
FdI leader Georgia Meloni, who could lead Italy’s first far-right government after Sunday’s vote, has sought to distance herself from her party’s post-fascist roots without renouncing them entirely.
Calogero Pisano, the head of FdI in Agrigento, Sicily and a member of the party’s national leadership, has been “suspended with immediate effect”, the FdI said in a statement.
“[He] no longer represents the party at any level and is forbidden from using its logo,” the statement added. Pisano is expected to appear before the party’s leadership in the coming days.
In 2014, Pisano had posted a photo of Meloni featuring the slogan “Italy Above All” on Facebook.
He had then commented underneath, “This reminds me of a great statesman from 70 years ago”, adding that he was not referring to Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini but to a “German”.
Pisano has reportedly published other comments supporting fascism since then.
Peppe Provenzano, the deputy leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, was the first politician to react after the Facebook post was brought to light by Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
“Deep roots never freeze,” he tweeted, noting that Brothers of Italy’s logo still uses the tricolour flame once used by the Italian Social Movement (Movimento Sociale Italiano, MSI), which was formed by Mussolini supporters after World War II.
Ruth Dureghello, the head of Rome’s Jewish community, said it was “unacceptable for someone who praises Hitler to sit in parliament”.
Meloni, who was an activist with the MSI as a teenager, has so far maintained that there is no place for fascist nostalgia in her party.