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3 Mar, 2009 06:52

Italians nostalgic for Mussolini

It seems some Italians are feeling nostalgic about Benito Mussolini, one of the key figures in the creation of fascism and an ally of Nazi Germany.

He famously made the trains run on time and granted independence to the Vatican. But Il Duce, as Italians call Mussolini, also brought about Italy’s darkest hour. A disastrous pact with Nazi Germany which meant they were on the losing side in WW2.

Mussolini managed to convince millions that fascism was the doctrine of the century. Of course history proved him otherwise, but in the 21st century Italy there is a surprising number of people who associate his name with the wave of the future.

Vincenzo Mancusi, a right-wing politician from the southern Italian city of Potenza, offers 1,500 euros to anyone in his town who names their offspring after Benito Mussolini or his wife Rachel.

Mancusi claims he has millions of euros in donations from people sympathetic to his cause.

“There are provinces in our region that are disappearing. Several hundred people live there, there are no jobs and many are leaving. We are building a future without forgetting out past,” Mancusi said in his address to the media.

However, with just four journalists turning up to cover his press conference, in Potenza, at least, his call for a family fell on deaf ears.

Still few have a bad word for Benito. It’s not rare people to hear people on the streets of the city saying they have positive views or that he was a great statesman, when commenting on Mussolini or the belief that fascism can be good.

Italy’s right-wing government officially condemns Mussolini and his tactics. But some laws debated in parliament, like the creation of special camps for immigrants, and school quotas for foreigners are reminiscent of his era. So maybe Italians are missing Il Duce’s grip a little more than they would like to admit.