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New Italian Foreign Minister, Former Neo-Fascist

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Section: International News Geography: Europe Italy Topics: elections

November 22, 2004

New Italian Foreign Minister, Former Neo-Fascist

by Shannon Hines

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi named former neo-fascist Gianfranco Fini as Italy's new foreign minister on Nov. 18, 2004. Fini, 52, is the leader of the National Alliance, a party that was not invited to participate in the writing of Italy's post-war constitution. The National Alliance was created in the early 1990s to replace the Italian Social Movement, which was formed post-war in an effort to continue the ideals of Benito Mussolini.

Mussolini, fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943, attempted to create an Italian empire, ultimately in alliance with Hitler's Germany, but the defeat of Italian arms in World War II brought an end to his imperial dream and led to his downfall.

Fini has softened his position on many issues in past years. He has since condemned Mussolini for the racial laws that led to the deportation and death of about 6,000 Italian Jews in Nazi camps, condemned fascism as an "absolute evil," and has visited Auschwitz. Fini has also made efforts to moderate National Alliance policies. Still, he remains highly conservative and, as the Guardian reports, is expected to become quick friends with George Bush's new administration.

However, many of the questions surrounding his appointment in Italy do not concern his neo-fascist past, but what many see as an overly pro-Israeli stance. In recent years Fini has been a leading sympathizer of Ariel Sharon's Israel. Last year, in a visit to Israel, Sharon described Fini as a "good and friendly leader."

One of the few politicians to raise the issue of Fini's record was Edouard Ballaman, MP for the populist Northern League, who said it was worrying Italy would be represented overseas by Fini and other members of his party.

"It will be extremely difficult to hold talks with a significant part of the world where, wittingly or unwittingly, [people] will see them as the heirs of fascism," he said.

It is unclear what effect Fini's appointment will have on his often-mutinous followers.

» The Guardian: Former neo-fascist to be Italian foreign minister

» International Herald Tribune: Italian official denounces country's Fascist past

» BBC: Gianfranco Fini Profile

» BBC: Silvio Berlusconi Profile

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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