Praise of fascism and denigration of the current Italian prime minister. More simply, how to ruin a politician’s reputation and credibility in less than five minutes. The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, generated an earthquake with his remarks on Benito Mussolini and the prime minister Giuseppe Conte in an interview he gave to an Italian radio. Both topics are controversial and very sensitive, nevertheless Tajani, who is in electoral campaign like everybody else, decided to undress of the institutional role he is expected to keep for the post he has.
Not a smart move, given the reactions coming from the political arena. The European United Left (GUE) asked Tajani’s resignation for what is considered “a clear attempt to normalize fascism”. The parliamentary group issued an official statement saying that “this Parliament cannot be represented by a President who tolerates the fascist initiator himself”.
Conte takes no decisions. Is he a puppet, then?
Before Mussolini came Tajani’s considerations on the current head of government. The Italian prime minister is useless. That’s what basically he said, when he was asked about Giuseppe Conte. The latter was labeled as “puppet” during the plenary session of the European Parliament last February.
The leader of the European Liberals (ALDE), Guy Verhofstadt made his personal show, sparking outrage among the Italian MEPs, who criticized Tajani not to having stopped the insults.
Asked how he could describe Conte, Tajani said; “Conte is a kind person, but it is well known that political decisions are taken by Matteo Salvini and Luigi di Maio”, referring to the leaders of The League and the Five Stars Movement (M5S) respectively. “When I have to see what to do with Italy I call these two”, he said, adding that “Conte is not a leader of any political party and he was not elected”.
These remarks came after M5S called for sanctions against the ALDE leader for his “puppet” comments. M5S MEP Piernicola Pedicini considered that on that occasion, article 11, paragraph 3, of title I of the internal regulation of the EU institution was breached. “Members shall not resort to defamatory […] language or behaviour”, the paragraph states. MEPs from M5S consider that a defamatory language was used to refer to the Italian prime minister. Sanctions have not been decided yet. In return we have Tajani’s considerations.
Now, despite “the style” and different kind of wording used by the president of the European Liberals and the president of the European Parliament, what is exactly the difference between a puppet and a prime minister who takes no decision because other people take them at his place?
Anyway, in the light of the next European elections, Conte’s friends (M5S) have received once again fuel for their electoral campaign. It means that thanks to Tajani’s remarks the Movement will have a renovated euro-skeptic argument to use in order to explain how bad and humiliating is Europe.
Mussolini, what a politician!
In Italy every person who uses the expression “I am not a fascist, but…” starting a discourse, in 99.9% of the cases he is really a fascist. The same story applies for the expression “I am not racist, but…”, and here Tajani showed to be 100% ‘made in Italy’. “I am not a fascist”, he said in the interview. But… “Mussolini made positive things”. Voilà the typical refrain you can listen to in Italy.
It is true that under the fascist regime the kingdom of Italy (yes, at that time the country was a monarchy, and Tajani himself has been in favour of the monarchy even after the monarchy was over) got roads, bridges and infrastructures. But this is something typical of every kind of government. Governments are there to give the country assets such as roads, hospitals, schools and so forth.
Despite the racial laws, the imprisonment of political opponents, internments, the ban of freedom of speech and media pluralism, Mussolini performed well, in Tajani’s perspective. “Until he declared war to the entire world following Hitler”, he clarified. Oooookay!
What is true for you, it is not for me
Tajani was ready to condemn the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when the Turkish leader accused Europe to act in a fascist and cruel manner. It happened in March 2017, in a moment of high tension in the bilateral ties. “I felt offended”, Tajani said in that occasion. Now, two years later, revisionism is allowed. Europe is constructing roads, even trans-European corridors, just like the “good” fascism. So, what’s wrong?
Five Stars more anti-fascist than Tajani
One of the first people to ask the president of the European Parliament to clarify was Udo Bullmann. According to the president of the S&D group Tajani made “incredible remarks”. The problem is of course the topic, but the institutional role of Tajani is also a source of concern. “How can a president of the European Parliament not recognize the nature of fascism? We need for clarifications”.
“Tajani should be ashamed”, tweeted Stefano Buffagni, undersecretary of State for Regional Affairs. The M5S politician showed more anti-fascism and more criticism over fascism than the president of the European Parliament. It has to be recalled that Tajani didn’t utter nice words for the Movement, accusing the leader of M5S to be an “illiterate of democracy”. Well, Mussolini was not an example of democracy. So, who is the enemy of the democratic game? Another point in favour of the anti-system.