Italy’s ex-premier Matteo Renzi urged politicians to combat all forms of violence ahead of the March 4 elections, after street battles between far-left and far-right activists in the past few days.
“I think it is very important for everyone — not just for a single party — to be here, to give a message against violence, against not just verbal violence but all types of violence,” Renzi said in an interview with Bloomberg Television at an anti-fascist and anti-racist rally in Rome.
A series of attacks has cast a shadow over the campaign, with worrying echoes of the dark days of the 1970s and 80s when Italy was rocked by hundreds of killings, bombings and kidnappings by politically-motivated extremists.
Polls before a blackout period was imposed on Feb 17 suggested a center-right coalition led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, which includes the anti-migrant League and the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is the only bloc with a chance of winning a parliamentary majority. But Italy faces uncertainty next month with no clear winner expected to emerge.
In a show of center-left unity, Democratic Party figures including its leader, Renzi, and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, as well as Pier Luigi Bersani, who broke away from the PD to set up the Democratic Progressive Movement, took part in the demonstration called by the National Association of Italian Partisans. Renzi said Gentiloni’s presence at the rally was “very important obviously,” along with “all the parties and with all the associations who fight against the spread of violence.”
The event’s slogan was “Fascism Never Again, Racism Never Again.” During a march through the capital, demonstrators sang the partisan song “Bella Ciao” of anti-fascist resistance movements during World War Two when Italy was ruled by Benito Mussolini. In the past few days, the regional leader of a neo-fascist party was assaulted, a far-left activist stabbed, and a memorial to policemen murdered by Marxist radicals was daubed with a swastika and threatening graffiti. Police clashed with far-left activists who were trying to disrupt an event by a far-right group in Turin in northern Italy.
Five Star leader may seek ‘grand coalition’
Luigi Di Maio, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement’s candidate for Italian premier, may seek a pact with the Democratic Party and other groups to form a government after the country’s March 4 elections, La Stampa reported. Di Maio is working on a “government contract” such as the one in Germany to form a “grand coalition,” the daily newspaper said, citing Di Maio’s conversations with his staff. Polls before a blackout period was imposed on Feb 17 suggested Five Star was on course to become single biggest party but fall short of a parliamentary majority.