Making light of fascism in European politics clearly still comes at a serious cost. Antonio Tajani, the Italian currently presiding over the EuroChamber, was embarrassed yesterday by the reactions to his having said dictator Benito Mussolini did “positive things”. His head, strictly speaking, did not roll, but his image is in tatters, and he generated some strong complaints and protests from leftist, socialist and green European parties.
He was forced to apologise, but deputies from the Forza Italia party and the Partido Popular defended him, accusing “some people” of twisting the meaning of his words, which featured in a radio interview with Italia Radio 24, on Wednesday evening. Tajani said that “before declaring war and following Hitler in applying racial laws, Mussolini did some positive things”. Among these positive actions, Tajani included Mussolini’s “building of infrastructure” and “claiming of territory for Italy”.
He went on to say “I have never been a fascist, but to be honest, I have to admit Mussolini built roads, bridges, buildings, sports centres, and claimed much territory for Italy”.
The Greens and the United Left demanded his resignation, and the Socialists wanted “immediate explanations” and didn’t rule out taking“further action”.