An attempt by a Jew in the ruling far-left Italian “Democratic Party” (PD) to make the possession of pictures of Benito Mussolini has failed after that country’s parliament was dissolved without finalizing the law.
Jewish PD lawmaker Emanuele Fiano, who drafted the bill, told the Washington Times in an interview that the subject is a “personal one” for him.
The law, which was passed by the Italian Chamber of Deputies in September by 261 to 122 votes, would have made it illegal to manufacture or possess any pictures of Mussolini—either as posters, keyrings, fridge magnets, on wine bottles, or in any other form.
The bill was supposed to have been ratified before implementation by the Italian Senate, but last week the entire parliament was dissolved ahead of elections in three months’ time, and the law has now been stalled awaiting the outcome of that election.
If approved, the proposal would provide for a prison sentence of up to two years for those who convicted for “making the fascist Roman salute, praising fascist ideas or selling items that recall Mussolini’s government or the Nazi totalitarian regime.”
Another eight months can be tacked on to the sentence if the imagery appears on the internet.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-invasion Northern League and a member of the European Parliament, is one of the strongest opponents to Fiano’s bill.
“When I first heard about this bill, I thought it was a joke,” he told The Washington Times in an interview. “What’s the point of a law that punishes those who, in 2017, own a photo of Mussolini? It’s crazy.”
“I want to reassure the American readers that in Italy there is no risk of the return of fascism or of other ideologies that were condemned by history. Italy has other priorities today — a lack of jobs, excessive taxation, social security and safety.”
Salvini said the measure is just one more sign of how once-dominant center-left and socialist parties have lost their way.
“The Italian left has lost touch with the current social situation,” he said. “It is no longer able to offer a vision of the future and uses the specter of the past in an attempt to alarm the older voters: those voters who really experienced the tragedy of the Second World War.”
But, he added, “it won’t work.”
Italian President Sergio Mattarella dissolved parliament last week in the run-up to elections to be held March 4.
Center-right parties—including the Northern League—are slated to make a strong showing, and it is possible that a “conservative” coalition could take power from the incumbent far left government.