Introduction Since February 2021 the government crisis in Italy has been overtaken by the President of the Republic through a wide coalition, appointing Mr. Mario Draghi – former ECB president – as premier. Indeed he seems to act more as an EU commissioner for the management of European Recovery Founds through new reforms, dealing more …
Since February 2021 the government crisis in Italy has been overtaken by the President of the Republic through a wide coalition, appointing Mr. Mario Draghi – former ECB president – as premier. Indeed he seems to act more as an EU commissioner for the management of European Recovery Founds through new reforms, dealing more with administration, business and public works, than with tight political aspects, concerning rights or social issues.
Due to his leadership, Mr.Draghi has been seen as the “fatherland savior” and would like to become the next President of the Republic.
Also Silvio Berlusconi is lurking in this competition, while right-wing parties are gaining momentum, though that socialdemocrats (PD) and their populist allies of M5S still have the majority in the Parliament.
The pandemic crisis have negative consequences both on the rising costs of energy, raw materials and on longer delivery times, affecting industrial production and everyday life, with lack of stocks and higher costs of living.
Though the recent GDP growth and the higher occupation rates, socio-economic imbalances are rising, with unequal redistribution and always more precarious contracts.
The media are mainly focused on pandemic situation, due to its pressure on healthcare system, which is about to collapse after ten years of expenditure cuts. Social-life restrictions has been adopted by the government, through the introduction of the ‘green-pass’, recently extended to work and public transports, with a vaccination obligation to certain essential categories in public services and to those older than 50. Protests against this measure, perceived as a discrimination and an intolerable duty, have brought to massive demonstrations.
Regarding neighbourhood relationships, main concerns arise from Mediterranean area and north-eastern borders, due mostly to the migration flows.
The diplomatic relationship with Egypt is deteriorated after the arrest and illegal detention of Patrick Zacky, in wear and tear for the trial against of Al-Sisi’s police officers, accused of tortures and murder of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni. Even the situation in Libia worsens after the cancellation of political elections and the Turkish influence on the territory.
On the northern side instead, in December Mr. Draghi’s government signed the ‘Quirinale Agreement’ with President of France, Emanuel Macron, for an enhanced bilateral cooperation.
Human rights and diversity are also in Italy under attack. More than a hundred prison police officers are on trial for torture after a brutal punitive expedition in Santa Maria Capua Vetere jail. Health restrictions have been a further expedient to carry on repressive measures against homeless people and workers’ trade unions rights. Moreover, the vaccination campaign was until October available only for italian-native people, leaving aside thousands of migrants and putting public health at risk of widespread of virus.
Status of the far-right in the country
In the last years there’s been an alarming trendrise of hate crimes, both for discrimination campaigns on the web and for street aggressions against minorities, migrants and LGBT people.
Indeed these are the main target groups of far-right violence, that also affect leftist students or trade unionists.
Some signs show even a risk of escalation on a terroristic level, as demonstrated by detections of neofascists’ weapons depots.
Neofascist presence in the country is always tinier on electoral consensus and in state institutions, though some city councillors, or sensational cases, such as the appointing of a new Italian ambassador, who’s clearly a neofascist sympathizer.
The so-called black-galaxy is formed by a network of local groups, associations, far-right squats often connected to the main three national organizations: Casapound Italy (CPI), New Force (FN), National Movement of Patriots Network (MNRP). The latter represents a recent faction, after the split with FN, which still has some common features with CPI, both starting with a music band fan club, founded by former neofascist terrorists of ‘Terza Posizione’, then establishing headquarters, where to arrange services and free-time activities.
There’s an apparent trend of a decrease in these three main groups memberships
Considering far-right institutional parties instead, such as LEGA or Brothers of Italy (FdI), though their debacle in the last administrative elections, these seem to gain anyhow more consensus, enough to form a new majority for next political elections in 2023.
They actually depict a conservative and nationalist block, with ideological proximity, conveyed in joint campaigns against NGOs, civil and human rights, strong Euro-scepticism, anti-abortion and self-defence proposals.
However they are divided within the Parliament, with FdI representing the right-wing opposition to the government, while LEGA is fully involved in Mr. Draghi’s majority.
There has always been attempts to gain hegemony in far-right area, though with low voltage conflicts, without open confrontations. At the national level, there’s more proximity of CPI to LEGA and more familiarity of FN to FdI. Moreover a struggle for far-right leadership is going on between Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni; while the recent decline of FN, whose leaders are under arrest, has offered an opportunity to its competitors to carry on a replacement strategy, bagging members and also some seats from them.
Status of antifascists in the country
Antifa reality is a variety of groups, movements and associations active mostly in local or regional levels and divided both by their political orientation and by a sort of three different approaches: militant, popular or institutional.
Some national associations – such as ARCI or ANPI, former partisans’ association – often boost awareness campaigns in their institutional approach, focused on dissemination of historical memory, aimed to promote the values inscribed in the Constitution.
Militant Antifa deals mostly with mutualism and social activities, also organizing counter-demonstrations or public initiatives, mainly at a local level, or in neighbourhoods.
Key concerns of antifascist movements, range from popular and spontaneous groups, engaged in antiracist campaigns for human and civil rights, denouncing fascist crimes; up to social struggles, such as anti-evictions actions, social squats, ecologism and care of common goods, anti-repression and public complaint of security forces fascist methods, exerted by militant factions.
For institutional associations antifascism is more focused on monitoring far-right groups and their connections to big parties, denouncing illegal drifts and the current fascist legacy in the legal system.
A conflicting approach stems from different reaction capacities of these antifa factions and the legitimate means to oppose unjust laws. Considering fascist as a crime, militant area carries out sort of disturbing actions against far-right groups, even with open confrontations; while on the other side, institutional associations tend to exert a firm, but always peaceful attitude. Another controversal issue is the opportunity of relying on institutional support, which is very common for national associations, in the conviction of reaffirming the anti-fascist guiding principles of the Constitution, unlike militant antifa, which often criticize politics and parties.
The lack of reliable state institutions in the antifascist struggle are evident through the ongoing illegal occupation of a building in Rome city centre by CPI; and the recent case of FN assault to CGIL headquarter, without a concrete follow-up for the removal of such a criminal associations.
Main risks faced by antifascists arise from being targeted and persecuted, both legally by the police and personally – with aggressions or threatens – by fascist groups.
In Italy the fascist regime took shape in 1919 as a conservative reaction to workers’ protests after WWI, soon gaining power thanks to the support of Italian monarchy and catholic church.
After dictatorship defeat through the Liberation struggle, the political amnesty in 1946 made former fascist officers return on the same duty – with assignments in ministries, prefectures and police headquarters – in the new Republic.
This brought to the immediate reconstitution of an institutional far-right party (MSI), which was elected in the national Parliament already in 1948.
The rising anti-communist approach in the western public opinion during ‘Cold War’ confrontation boosted far-right political development in such a border country.
Labour and social rights, gained with workers’ and students’ movements in late ‘60s, were opposed by conservative forces through the ‘strategy of tension’, a terrorist plan, aimed to shape a sort of long-lasting state of emergency, trying to make the young Italian democracy collapse.
After two coup attempts in 1964 with ‘Solo Plan’ and in 1970 with ‘Borghese coup’, from 1972 this strategy escalated in several massacre bombing attacks in public places.
At the beginning of ‘90s Italy turned to be from an emigration to an immigration country. Hence nationalist programs gained momentum in a context of rising social inequalities. In 1994 the corruption scandal of many politicians brought Silvio Berlusconi to form his first government even with four ministers of the far-right ‘National Alliance’(AN-MSI).
The rising power and influence of far-right representatives boosted the reconstruction of neofascist organizations, imprinting a xenophobic, reactionary and repressive approach also in the Republican institutions, as seen with police repression against the Genoa Social Forum during the G8 in 2001.
Fascist drift has often lead to open and sometimes brutal confrontations with antifascist movements, such as in 1960 in Genoa against the national congress of MSI, or the everyday street clashes and raids during the socalled ‘years of lead’ in the ‘70s, with a long trail of blood and victims, mostly related to parties within the anti-/ pro-communist area.
Following are some key violent actions taken by fascists:
- FIRENZE , 13 December 2011– Killing in Dalmazia square, where CPI militant started shooting to African workers at the weekly street-market.
- FERMO, 5 July 2016 – Aggression and murder of a Nigerian man on the street, caused by CPI supporter, Amedeo Mancini.
- MACERATA, 3 February 2018 – FN member’s, Luca Traini massive-shooting to African and migrant people on the streets.
- BARI, 21 September 2018 -After a counter-demonstration to Salvini’s political rally in Bari (Puglia), some participants were attacked by an armed group of CPI militants.
- ROME, 9 October 2021 – Assault to CGIL trade union headquarter by FN during a No Vax demonstration.
Key political turning points for fascists, also related to narratives and target groups, reflect international and social context. In the ‘70s far-right approach was deeply identitarian and classist, with conservative tendencies, mainly gathered in political parties. A decade later neofascist ideology was spread through extremists and hooligans, rooted in a communitarian sphere, with connection to mafia and deviated security services. Even in the ‘90s many small and local groups acted as gangs. Indeed with 2000 far-right approach is rooted mainly in nationalist and anti-migration topics.
International networks of the main far-right movements in Italy follow somehow similar trends, such as the approach to Greek Golden Dawn and the employment of Russian network VK.
The organizational model of Casapound Italy – based on identitarian social squats – has inspired similar experiences, such as ‘Haus Montag‘ in Germany and ‘Casal Tramuntana’in Spain. These groups together promoted campaigns, such as the ‘European Solidarity Front for Syria‘, which brought in June 2013 several of their members in Rome to demonstrate with CPI. Other countries were involved as well, like Portugal with ‘Escudo Identitario‘ or even Russia in collaboration with “Wotan Jugend“.
The latter collaboration is actually curious since one of the main CPI connections in the last years has been on the other side of the war-front, beside Ukrainian neo-Nazi party Pravi Sektor.
An important relationship held by CPI is the one with the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, recently sentenced for being a criminal organization. Referring to it, in November 2014 during a meeting in Rome, one of the Italian neofascist leaders said to “share a common destiny”.
A similar approach to Golden Dawn has been attempted even by New Force (FN), trying to compete for hegemony in the italian far-right, organizing international festivals like “Boreale” each September in Milan. Other attempts by FN concerned a collaboration with pro-Russian Dugin’s militias in Donbass, profiting from CPI deployment next to Ukrainian nationalists.
However, FN connections come from its leader’s, Roberto Fiore, background and are rooted mainly in the United Kingdom, with a long-lasting collaboration with the ‘Union Movement‘ Britain alt-right faction. The common conservative background referring to St.George mythology has also empowered FN connections to Balkans, or with central-eastern Europe nationalist organizations. In November 2018 FN took part to the neofascist rally in Varsaw, in order to attempt the creation of a “Black International”.
For this purpose international meetings have been often organized in Milan, such as the one in 2014, with several neofascist delegates, from NDP, Germany; from ‘Sverkarnas Party’ of Sweden from spanish ‘Democracia Nacional’.
The level of collaboration range from conferences, to joint participation to public demonstrations, or international festivals, in order to arrange meeting points and update the far-right network. Intense activities deal also with exchanges, such as participation of CPI to training camps in Ukraine; while FN has a more institutional approach, searching for alliances within the far-right coalition of ‘Alliance for Peace and Freedom’.
Some journalist investigations have discovered few italian neofascist ‘volunteers’ taking part to the war in Ukraine, one with the nationalist Pravi Sektor and others, Andrea Palmieri and Francesco Preziuso, on the other side of the fence, fighting in the pro-Russian factions, with the Donbass frontier troops of Donestk. Palmieri is wanted by the police and declares publicly to be a terrorist. Antoher case is the one of Giovanni Feola, a member of CPI and representative of the pro-Assad European Solidarity Front for Syria.
From late ’90s Italy became for the first time ever a destination of Mediterranean migration flows and together with deindustrialization and progressive rise of impoverishment and inequalities, these factors let far-right propaganda gain more consensus, pointing to the migrants as the scapegoat of Italian socio-economic decline. The repression of a systemic alternative at Genoa Social Forum in 2001 let such an extremist drift gain more feasibility regarding the distortions of globalization, filling up political gaps with a nationalist perspective.
The far-right revival started in 2003 with the birth of Casapound Italy in the same period of Silvio Berlusconis’ return to power. He was actually called “the black knight” for his endorsement to members of postfascist National Alliance (AN).
In the aftermath of ‘Great Recession’ of 2009 bigger neofascist organizations such as CPI and FN gained a new momentum, though their electoral outcomes have never overtaken the 1%.
For this reason in 2019 CPI decided to quit with electoral experience, setting back to the former neofascist association, while FN experienced a new internal split.
Far-right institutional parties of FdI and Lega support neofascist groups hosting their initiatives in institutional seats and often enrolling some prominent figures to candidate in their local lists.
Connections between the harder edges of the fascist movements and parliamentary politicians are evident also at higher levels, such as the meeting on last March between the vice president of the Senate and FN leaders right at Madama palace.
Another relevant connection is the relationship published by La Repubblica newspaper between Roberto Fiore and the Campania regional councilor Marco Nonno of FdI.
Far-right expires fluctuating electoral results with some peaks of consensus, firstly in the period so-called ‘second republic’ from the mid-’90s, then again in the years of the economic crisis of 2009. In 2008 even the former neofascist terrorist Roberto Fiore became MEP. After the last political elections in 2018 far-right parties of FdI and Lega have respectively 50 and 181 MPs out of 945 overall seats. The last electoral polls of december 2020 show a worrying trend of increasing consensus for these parties, around 38-40% of interviewees’ voting intentions.
Main political claims of far-right parties are evident in their programmatic statements, concerning a xenophobic approach against refugees reception, struggle for conceptions of patriarchal society and traditional family against civil rights, following a catholic orientation; support for employers’ associations proposals in terms of privatizations and liberalizations of public services. Even the tax cut is a prerogative of right-wing parties and it couples with the simplification of rules on enterprises, such as with the Moratorium on the code of public contracts – useful against mafia infiltration, or race to the bottom -, with repercussions on the safety and health of workers.
Neofascist factions instead tend to prefer nationalism to liberalism, promoting social protection for native Italians and the state control over strategic assets.
Other points regarding the social sphere concern for example the “self-defense right” and the freedom of weapons possession. For FdI another typical topic is the support of the birth rate, while a common issue is that of borders control, even with a naval blockade and stop to the “illegal immigration”.
Italian media-landscape suffers from a drastic reduction in the number of newspapers daily sold; and above all from a concentration of publishing ownership, that puts Italy rather behind in the ranking of press freedom. In a political context of wide transversal coalition that supports Mario Draghi’s government is therefore very difficult to have dissident or independent publications on mainstream media.
This centrist and moderate approach, typical of the Italian political tradition, actually provides a sort of extremists exclusion, bringing generally mainstream media to condemn any violent or hard-edge far-right actions. Apart from infrequent journalistic investigations – such as the ones published by L’Espresso or Fanpage.it – on far-right affairs and connections, most of the news tend to be shallow and limited to the chronicles, without any inquiry deep enough to make public opinion more aware from this criminal groups.
Anyway, even far-right institutional parties tend to condemn political violence at least publicly, distancing themselves from neofascist factions and showing all their embarrass, with right-wing newspapers rather trying to minimize such attacks.
There are some national newspapers, such as: Libero, Il Foglio, Il Giornale, or the magazine Panorama, that boost far-right parties initiatives, often with an overexposure of those leaders. The most historical one is ‘Il Secolo d’Italia’ founded in 1957 by neofascist MSI. Even Lega Nord used to have ‘La Padania’ newspaper, whose editorial office closed after conviction for state tax fraud its party. Referring to far-right peculiar publications, CPI owns a website magazine called ‘The National Primacy’, employing a certain mimicry regarding logos and contents, so to avoid explicit neofascist references.
Publications usually follow a liberal and traditionalist approach, connected to the middle or upper bourgeoisie with conservative political views and a “fluid” orientation, attempting to attract new readers with provocative tones. An example for its outspoken narratives is represented by Libero, especially as regards the titling (for i.e. headlines: “after misery they bring diseases” referring to migrants; “turnover and GDP decrease but gays increase“; “southerners command”; “Islamic bastards “; etc.) with an unscrupulous style, thus, has led to some “blunders” much criticized.
Far-right and fascist groups have set up a wide network of financing sources. Besides the traditional funding channels of memberships, donations, gadgets or events, there’s a sort of entrepreneurial galaxy, made up by restaurants, clubs, clothing chains, shops, language schools, etc.
CPI has widely developed its growth potential thanks to its publishing house, named ‘Altaforte’, and a fashion brand called ‘Pivert’.
Moreover fascist factions profit from their international networks for the management of not always legal affairs, from Italy to France and the United Kingdom, passing through Cyprus and reaching Vladimir Putin’s Russia. “God, homeland and family” but also real estate or consulting companies, mysterious trusts and strange offshore companies. Referring to this, L’Espresso magazine has revealed FN business connections in the UK through odd agencies, such as the socalled Gladio Consulting Londoners, or Blackwood Properties, Service Decima, The Trust of St Michael the Archangel, with most of their names featured by religious or fascist references.
Another example is the “Alexandrite Association”, chaired by Roberto Fiore, that helps Italian entrepreneurs interested in investing and relocating production in Crimea and throughout Russia.
Besides that FN receives European funding through the “Alliance for Peace and Freedom“, which brings together far-right movements from across the continent.
Indeed neofascist organizations receive financial support and gifts by bigger right-wing parties. On last October the head of the delegation of the Brothers of Italy (FdI) to the European Parliament, Carlo Fidanza, ended up in judicial controversy, due to a report on illegal operations to finance the FdI election campaign and ties between the Milanese right, neo-fascists and extremists.
On the other side, CPI prefers instead to deal with France, developing business relationships through companies, such as Carré Français, Badabing, Angelino Bros, Riwal Italia, etc., all based in Italy but with the invested capitals partially or entirely French.
Usually their founders are not just interested in business, but share political views and aim to finance electoral campaigns. Besides that ‘trusted people’ on the ground are useful for shady traffics, even in drugs dealing and weapons, as suspected for CPI mission abroad in Burma, with its onlus called ‘Popoli’.
where Italian energy agency ENI has some of its main supply sites.
 https://www.lastampa.it/torino/2019/07/15/news/armi-da-guerra-e-un-missile-sequestrati-a-militanti-di-estrema-destra-arrestato-ex-candidato-di-forza-nuova-1.37025505 ; https://www.fanpage.it/attualita/arrestato-perche-vendeva-un-missile-di-nuovo-in-manette-per-traffico-darmi-fabio-del-bergiolo/
A turning point was the demonstration in Macerata in 2018, after the terroristic attack of FN member, with militant and local groups organizing protests, while institutional associations – ANPI, ARCI, etc. – decided not to participate, following authorities’ instructions. https://left.it/2018/02/07/macerata-lo-stop-dellanpi-al-corteo-antifascista-scelta-impopolare-sara-compresa-piu-avanti/
Some journalists, such as Paolo Berizzi, publicly denouncing raids of neonazist Do.Ra group in his inquiries on L’Espresso magazine, has been then forced to live under police escort after several raids. https://milano.repubblica.it/cronaca/2019/02/06/news/paolo_berizzi_scorta_ministero-218447640/
 These conservative forces made by far-right parties, diverted sectors of security services and army, declined noble families and NATO agents.
 A couple of years before, Traini was a Lega Nord candidate for the local elections, then radicalizing his convictions with the registration in the neofascist organization of FN. In the recent times he had also been engaged for the security service of Salvini for political rallies in Marche region. https://www.ilpost.it/2018/02/05/novita-luca-traini-e-attentato-a-macerata/
 As a result of victims’ legal complaint, 28 CPI members are charged in the ongoing trial to have acted as an armed gang, using political violence, restoring fascist attitude https://www.tgcom24.mediaset.it/cronaca/puglia/bari-aggressione-dopo-il-corteo-mai-con-salvini-due-manifestanti-feriti-30-militanti-di-casapound-in-questura_3164705-201802a.shtml ;
 Thanks to L’Espresso investigative journalism, a mapping of both CPI and FN financial affairs has been recently published. https://espresso.repubblica.it/inchieste/2017/11/01/news/casapound-e-forza-nuova-la-mappa-delle-societa-estere-dei-partiti-neofascisti-1.313201
 It was founded by the Bavarian far-right “Der III Weg” https://web.archive.org/web/20190112145141/https://www.globalist.it/intelligence/2017/06/13/la-polizia-tedesca-legami-tra-i-neonazisti-bavaresi-e-casa-pound-2000568.html
 Some CPI members participating to militias training camps of the so-called ‘Azov Battalion’, such as the one of Carpatian Sich in summer 2016 https://www.giornalettismo.com/casapound-carpatian-sich-nazisti/ ; http://chas-z.com.ua/news/39009
 Fiore still owns some agencies and real estates, such as one called ‘Easy London’ https://espresso.repubblica.it/inchieste/2017/11/03/news/tutti-i-soldi-e-le-societa-di-casapound-e-forza-nuova-cosi-si-finanziano-i-partiti-neofascisti-1.313304?refresh_ce
 Griffin’s British National Party, that even helped Fiore to disappear and escape from condemnation to jail in Italy http://www.brianzapopolare.it/sezioni/storia/20020521_easy_london_fascisti.htm
 A strong connection is between FN and ‘Romantikus eroszak’ (‘Romantic violence’), due to their common background referred to the Codreanu’s ‘Iron Guard’.
 FNI together with far-right MW movement, to celebrate Polish independence. https://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2018/11/11/news/polonia_marcia_dell_estrema_destra_nel_centenario_dell_indipendenza-211402978/
 Alleanza Nazionale was a party led by G. Fini, one of the successors of the former fascist MSI. Berlusconi’s political opening has brought to a general breakthrough of far right.
 Marco Nonno is member of FdI and he’s trying to hel the first to get out from jail, in return of a similar favour when in 2009 Nonno was under arrest. https://www.repubblica.it/politica/2021/12/13/news/neofascismo_forza_nuova_e_l_opa_di_casapound_italia-329962422/
 The Saint George Educational Trust has been employed for funding the anti-vaccine association Vicit Leo. https://espresso.repubblica.it/inchieste/2017/11/03/news/tutti-i-soldi-e-le-societa-di-casapound-e-forza-nuova-cosi-si-finanziano-i-partiti-neofascisti-1.313304/