Italy | 06/20/2022

Italy 2022 June

Hands over the City*

Local elections have outlined some peculiar aspects of the Italian far-right. The first one is the political connection with the mafia, discovered by the police with the arrest of two candidates at the City council of Palermo, belonging the one to Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and the other to Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, with the accusation of vote exchange for favours with members of the organized crime. All over Italy, even in the northern cities of Verona, Gorizia and Piacenza, the parliamentary Anti-mafia Commission has detected around 18 “unpresentable” candidates, mostly of right-wing and civic lists, with one of them coming from the Democratic Party. Money laundering, corruption, and extortion are some of the crimes charged against these unpresentable candidates, according to the code of parties and Severino law. The number of such cases is exactly double compared to the previous elections last fall. Another worrying trend of the far-right is the adaptive attitude of both extremist groups, such as Casapound Italy, and institutional parties, such as Brothers of Italy, in order to set up alliances and join together, such as for administrative elections in Lucca (Tuscany), where the new major, Mario Pardini of FDI, has won with the support of the neofascist organization CPI and ‘No-Vax’ local leader. *title inspired by Francesco Rosi’s movie about corruption, actually set in Naples ( )

New moderate political entity and far-right stigma

The electoral results at the last administrative round have anyway questioned the stability of the right-wing coalition with tough competition for its leadership, mostly between Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, together with rising divergences of orientation also in political relations. Indeed the alliance with the far-right organization of CPI has caused a bad mood among the most liberal members of Forza Italia, even bringing to the resignation of one of his MP, Elio Vito, who firmly criticizes such a drift in the far-right.

However such political distancing by institutional representatives seems to be a rare case. A good example by the way is related to CPI headquarters in Rome, perfectly representing the level of connivance between the neofascist organization and some high-profile members of the state apparatus. Indeed after 19 years of the illegal occupation of that building in the middle of the capital centre, eight officials of national Ministers are now on trial for not having removed the abusive situation, implying economic damage to the public sector of around 2,7mln.€. In addition, the occupants are not people in a housing emergency, many of them have a job, even in some cases in national ministries, so much remunerated that they can afford a normal rent. In general, the political trend follows the resurgence of a new Christian-liberal pole with many right-wing exponents attracted by this new moderate convergence; while neofascist organizations are losing momentum and tend to leave the autonomous course, preferring to join bigger far-right parties, at least for elections.

Far-right borderlines in search of a mythological European civilization

Even at the European level are coming out problems with the justice for right-wing parties, above all regarding the investigation by the Milan prosecutor’s office on the so-called “Black Lobby”, which involves an MEP of the League party, Angelo Ciocca, accused of illicit financing and money laundering, together with his colleague of Brothers of Italy, Carlo Fidanza, among others. Despite such troubles, the month of June has been quite more intensive in terms of international meetings, mostly in form of conferences and concerts, both for the institutional and the militant far-right. Referring to the first group, it’s worth mentioning Giorgia Meloni’s participation in VOX’s final event in Marabella of the electoral campaign for the Andalusia government. The two parties join the same political group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), currently chaired by the Italian leader of Brothers of Italy (FDI), whose support for the Spanish ultra-nationalist candidate remarks shared views on several issues. Meloni’s speech was welcome by participants’ ovations and focused on the unity of “patriotic parties” in Europe, referring to such topics, as national sovereignty, support for the traditional family, pro-life purposes and anti-migrants policies. In a fervent way, she also accused LGBTQ+ lobby and financial plots to undermine the traditional identity of European culture, thus retrieving far-right conservative rhetoric on conspiracy theories. From another stage, the European neighbours and sometimes even competitors of the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, among those were two delegates of Salvini’s League party, met on the 23rd of June for a meeting, that ended with the so-called “Antwerp declaration”. Despite the high-sounding name, the statement mainly represents another approach to national sovereignty as an “added value and superiority concept”, thus attacking the annual ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’ as a process of power centralization, in their opinion at the expense of member states independence.

At the same time, the statement reports a curious idea of the “rule of law”, defined as a tool of blackmail, due to the ‘conditionality mechanism’ within European cooperation and its funds. Here again, the core proposal is then represented by the “strict control of the external borders”, thus opposing “mass immigration”. Certain international activism is to be noticed also by the side of neofascist organizations, mainly with concerts related to the naziskin scene or exchanges with twinned associations. The latter is the case of the event hosted on the 11th of June by Casaggì in Florence for a meeting with the french ‘Institute Iliade’, based on the presentation of Thibault Mercier’s book about greek mythology and European millennial tradition. Thanks to a far-right-oriented publishing house called ‘Passaggio al Bosco Edizioni’, the two organizations carry on political training, promoting “traditional values” based on “greek-roman roots”.

*Transnational Developments on Discourse in Mainstream Media *

The standing recall to ancient, glorious ages is a mainstream, identitarian narrative of the far-right, in opposition to modern dissolution, usually referred to as civil rights, women’s free choice and migrants’ protection. Not by chance the proposal of a further acknowledgement of “second-generation people”, through a citizenship law grounded on the so-called “ius scholae” for those having joined at least eight years of school in Italy – has been immediately countered by the far-right. The matter is controversial because, on the one side such a proposal is more a compromise within the government coalition of popular, progressive and right-wing parties together, than a modern and adequate measure; while on the other side it sounds like a political flag towards the next elections in 2023. In fact, Prime minister Mario Draghi has dismissed the proposal stating that it is a parliamentary matter. Another relevant aspect of the transnational discourse is also related to the unspoken, that is to say, the umpteenth mass-murder in Buffalo in the USA, due to the excessive possession of weapons. Such crimes are never openly condemned by the Italian far-right, since it’s political awkwardness, because of a permissive approach towards armed “self-defence” and easier circulation of guns.

*Transnational Social Media Activity & Propaganda/Narratives *

The conflict in Ukraine still attracts the sympathy of neofascist groups towards related organizations on both sides of the war. As well known, Casapound Italy has for several years developed a special relationship with the Azov battalion. Therefore is not a surprise if in one of its local seats, precisely the ‘Berta’ section in Naples, during a concert the participants showed the flag of that Ukrainian squad, making fascist greetings, as shown on their telegram profile and then broadcasted also on other youtube channels.

Transnational Political and Financial Cooperation

Far-right political parties have within the respective European groups a strong connection point, boosting each other with similar conservative proposals, thus enhancing both their political cooperation and their transnational visibility. In addition, participation at the institutional level, such as the European Parliament, is itself an important source of financing. The competitive trend among nationalist parties grouped within European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) on the one side; and within Identity and Democracy (ID) on the other, seems not to go far beyond the contest for the leadership of the far-right. However other interests are also at stake if we take into account wider relationships with international actors, like American neo-cons, or Russian Putin’s oligarchs. At least in Italy these two aspects are maybe the main drivers of the ongoing competition for the leadership between Matteo Salvini (League) and Giorgia Meloni (FDI). From a bottom-up perspective instead, local neofascist organizations keep on setting up clubs and shops, which turn out to be both meeting points and financing channels, in a long-term strategy of social rooting. The above-mentioned example of the neofascist publishing house is not the only one and it represents often the first step towards the realization of new foundations.