S.partaco Perini spoke overwhelmingly about his time as a World War II resistance fighter in the days leading up to his death. The founder of one of Italy’s first anti-fascist groups in Colle San Marco, a village in Ascoli Piceno in the central Marche region, was praised by Allied forces for his role as a fearless informant, work that helped liberate Europe from the Nazis and end the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. But he had a regret.
“In his last days, he talked a lot about the great things the partisans did to restore freedom and achieve democracy,” said Pietro Perini, son of the partisan and president of Anpi’s Ascoli Piceno unit, an anti-fascist organization. “But he also felt that they made a mistake, and that was not eradicating it. [fascism] completely “.
Spartaco Perini died in 2001, at the age of 82. Two decades later, Brothers of Italy, a descendant of a party formed in 1946 by persistent Mussolini supporters, leads Marche after winning regional elections last September, ending 25 years of left-wing rule. It was a significant victory for the party, which in recent years has steadily moved from the political margins to being side by side with Matteo Salvini’s far-right League as Italy’s largest parties in recent opinion polls.
Its leader, Giorgia Meloni, who started in the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), his post-war predecessor, is now reading to succeed Mario Draghi as prime minister in the 2023 general election, having kept his party outside his broad coalition.
Meloni, a smart politician, has struggled to reshape her party, portraying it as a conservative defender of patriotism. In her autobiography, I Am Giorgia, she wrote that she “does not belong to the cult of fascism.”
But there are indications in Marche that the party, which maintains MSI’s tricolor flame as its logo, has not completely severed ties to its past.
In April, the mayor of Ascoli Piceno of the Brothers of Italy donated fascist comics to schools. A few days later, the national holiday to commemorate Italy’s liberation from fascism, the chairman of the Marche education department sent a letter to students equating fascists with partisans like Spartaco Perini. “We should remember those killed in war regardless of which side they were on,” he wrote.
“We have always had apologists for fascism, but now some are in positions of power,” said Perini’s son.
One of the first political measures of the new Marche administration was to close reception and support facilities for immigrants. As in Umbria, a former stronghold of the left that fell to the League in 2019, it also wants to ban health clinics from providing the abortion pill. A Italian Brethren politician recently suggested that women should stay home to care for children while men set the rules. Party leaders seek to adopt a measure that would restrict social housing to Italians.
“In this region there has been a cultural, social and political change, some of which are being translated into measures,” said Antonio Mastrovincenzo, a former Marche councilor for the center-left Democratic Party, who accepts the weaknesses of the secular left. . base for the pivot of the region to the right. “We made mistakes and people never forgave us,” he added.
The first push for change came in August 2016, when central Italy, including parts of the Marche region, suffered an earthquake that killed nearly 300 people. At the time, Matteo Renzi, a former prime minister and former leader of the Democratic Party, promised to immediately rebuild the shattered cities. But many of the affected places still remain abandoned.
The League and the Brothers of Italy also played with immigration, especially when 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro was allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant in the city of Macerata in early 2018. Days later, and a few weeks before the national elections, Luca Traini, a far-right extremist, wounded six African immigrants in a shooting that he claimed was revenge for the murder.
“Traini became the workhorse of the forces of the right to affirm that it was the politics of the left that caused this situation,” said Lina Caraceni, former Macerata integration councilor and representative of the association’s local unit. private Refugees. Welcome Italy.
“They threw away all the projects that the previous administration did – Macerata was one of the first places in Italy that Sprar adopted [a system to house migrants], and now that’s gone. There has also been more racism: nobody wants to rent houses to foreigners. “
For Paolo Berizzi, a La Repubblica journalist who has written extensively on the extreme right in Italy, the strongest sign of change in Marche came on October 27, 2019, when a commemorative dinner was held to mark the anniversary of the “ march on Rome ”by Mussolini. . The dinner was attended by Francesco Acquaroli, now president of Marche, along with other mayors of the Brothers of Italy.
“This gives you an idea of how the Brothers of Italy treat the nostalgic right: not only do they not distance themselves from it, but they celebrate it,” said Berizzi, adding that Marche had become “a kind of laboratory for the right which founded its roots in the fascist tradition ”.
Brothers of Italy usually compete in local, regional and general elections in coalition with the League, led by Matteo Salvini, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. The alliance manages 15 of the 20 Italian regions. Meloni, who has eclipsed Salvini in popularity, is now heavily in charge, meaning that if they compete together in 2023 and win, she has a good chance of becoming prime minister.
“The left has been weak to intercept the rise of the right in Italy,” Berizzi said. And in reads the danger. The country that produced, but also defeated, fascism could end up being led by a party linked to that history. “
The arrival of Brothers of Italy in Marche has also helped embolden far-right groups such as CasaPound and Forza Nuova, Perini said. “Whenever we do a demonstration, we find swastikas on the walls the next day, and the fans of the Ascoli Piceno soccer team celebrate each goal with the fascist salute. The extremists know that they can do this now without fear of punishment, ”he added.
Perini is concerned about the outcome of the next national elections. “I have no faith that things can change. The worst thing is that it seems that the efforts of the partisans were in vain. “