Silvio Berlusconi prepares the assault on the Quirinal Palace, seat of the Presidency of the Republic, and prematurely ‘licensees’ the head of state, Sergio Mattarella, re-elected at the end of last January for a new seven-year term. This is the interpretation made by the Italian media after this controversial statement by the leader of Forza Italia: “If presidentialism were approved, it would be resignation is necessary of President Sergio Mattarella to go to the direct election of the new president,” ‘Il Cavaliere’ told Radio Capital, an interview in which analysts see an attempt to intimidate the head of state. Berlusconi, who turns 86 on September 29, has created a political storm, which will surely last for much of the electoral campaign, by relaunching the “priority reform” of the Constitution, in force since January 1, 1948, to establish the presidentialism, which means overcoming the current parliamentary Republic, attributing to the president the powers of head of state and prime minister. This supposes an accumulation of power that, according to Professor Sabino Cassese, a prestigious constitutionalist, always causes fear in Italy, due to the memory of the so-called ‘fascist ventennio’, the almost 20 years of the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, who ruled the country since 1922 to 1943.
The letters of ‘Il Cavaliere’
The statements by Berlusconi, who is still thinking of becoming head of state, an unrealizable dream, according to all analysts, provoked an avalanche of criticism, especially from the center-left parties, in addition to some embarrassment among the coalition partners of ‘Il Cavaliere’, whom they consider unwary for revealing all the cards to the opponent too soon. For Enrico Letta, secretary of the Democratic Party (PD), the majority on the left, “involving the President of the Republic in the electoral campaign is a dramatic mistake on the right». In his report to the national leadership of the PD, meeting yesterday, Letta stressed that “presidentialism wants to break our Constitution and is not good for our country, which needs a Parliament that is capable of uniting, of interpreting the many territorial rights and political souls ». According to the leader of the PD, Italy will go to the polls on September 25 because “the right has brought down Draghi and now the electoral campaign begins with an attack on the Quirinal. We will not allow Italy to become Orbán’s Hungary.” In a video message in Spanish, English and French, Letta attacks the Brothers of Italy and their alliance with Vox in the European Parliament: «The Spanish party, like all its far-right allies in Europe, sees in the EU a threat to the sovereignty of their countries. With their programs they oppose any European federalist project and further integration.’
Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia, the country’s leading party according to all the polls, with 24% intending to vote, is doing everything possible to give a reassuring image. Meloni, who could preside over the Government if the center-right wins the elections, has responded on Facebook to the center-left’s attack, thus explaining his position on presidentialism: “Fratelli d’Italia considers that Italians should have the right to vote directly to the head of state and to choose by whom to be governed in order to put an end to the maneuvers of the palace and return to being protagonists in Europe and in the world».
Meloni, involved in controversy over fascism
Though Giorgia Meloni tries to avoid controversy, is still involved in a hard controversy. The leader of the Brothers of Italy recorded a video message in English, French and Spanish last Wednesday, to try to erase the fears expressed outside of Italy by various international media about a possible authoritarian turn in the transalpine country, if Meloni becomes head of government. In her message, Giorgia Meloni for the first time firmly abjured fascism and racial laws: “The Italian right – said Meloni – has relegated fascism to history for decades, unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and the shameful laws against the Jews.
Among the reactions to Meloni’s message, that of Senator for life Liliana Segre, 91 years old, expelled from school in her youth, for racial laws by Benito Mussolini in 1938, and a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Segre was arrested in 1943 and deported at age 13 to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Of the 776 Italian children under the age of 14 who were deported to that extermination camp, only 25 survived, Liliana among them. For the senator, Meloni’s words are not enough to confirm her total distance from the most nostalgic circles of fascism in Italian politics: «In my life I have heard everything and more, words therefore do not impact me much. I say this to Giorgia Meloni: she begins by taking the flame out of your party’s logo».
Controversy over the symbol
Specifically, Senator Segre refers to the tricolor flame present in the logo of the Brothers of Italy party, the same one that stood out in the symbol of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the party founded in 1946 by several members of the fascist regime, including Giorgio Almirante. After the MSI, the flame was also part of the symbol of the National Alliance. And the tricolor flame is still present in the symbol of the Brothers of Italy, founded by Meloni in 2013. For many, the permanence of the tricolor flame partially frustrates Meloni’s attempt to completely distance himself from fascism, since the contiguity of some exponents of the Brothers of Italy with the Italian extreme right and neo-fascism.
The former president of the Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, considers that the tricolor flame is “a representation of the fascist regime emerging from the tomb of Mussolini dictator. Meloni should explain why the tricolor flame appears in the symbol of the Brothers of Italy”, says Boldrini.
Antonio Scurati, professor of Literature and author of «M. The Son of the Century” (on Mussolini’s rise to power, a best-selling book): “On Meloni’s part it is a canny attempt to rebuild political credibility, ahead of the elections. There is no renunciation of fascism, only to some violent aspects (the racial laws). Meloni is exactly in the footsteps of Mussolini, rather than on the front of fascism in that of populism – declares Scurati to La Repubblica-. Acrobatic opportunism, the readiness to deny, to abjure -he concludes- was one of the most effective characteristics of the Duce in his rise to power».
In the controversy, in favor of the leader of the Brothers of Italy, the American political scientist Edward Luttwak, widely heard in Italy, has intervened: «Meloni represents a new political generationwhich has nothing to do with fascism and wants to keep Italy together with the United States, rejecting any rapprochement with China and Russia».
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism