Fascism resurfaces in Italy at the hands of anti-vaxxers

The tranquility in Italy ended weeks ago for both Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his consensus government, supported by the country’s main parties. And who knows if he came to enjoy the calm at some point after entering in February this year.

The pandemic context of covid-19 did not contribute to the tranquility either. Since the European Medicines Agency approved the compounds to be inoculated on the old continent, the anti-vaccine movement has emerged in some EU states, including Italy. Although almost 70% of the population is fully immunized, skepticism towards vaccination continues to be at the center of public opinion.

European authorities have defended the importance of getting vaccinated to obtain immunity and regain social and economic activity as quickly as possible, but some influential voices have expressed their disagreement. In Spain, the singer Miguel Bosé was one of the protagonists of this movement which ended up becoming the meat of samewithout political support. Despite disputes over regional distribution and dose management, unanimous awareness of the benefits of mass inoculation was key to achieving the goal.

Why is vaccination a controversial topic in Italy?

You have to go back three years to provide an approximate answer to this question. In 2018, the government coalition between the Five Star Movement and the Lega withdrew a law that imposed compulsory vaccination of children for school registration, leaving the final decision in the hands of parents. The messages of the two formations questioning the institutions, also in the health and scientific field, have deeply penetrated the population and even more with the powerful loudspeaker available on social platforms and the media, channels in which they have had an exceptional presence. They expressed the uselessness and the danger of vaccination and its side effects.


A precedent that seems to have been transferred to the present: some representatives of these formations have joined the campaigns that opposed vaccination (the movement No Vax). Disputes within the Lega have been notorious and have compromised, at times, the arguments of its secretary Matteo Salvini. Esta corriente ha sido aprovechada por la propia Lega y otros partidos de la derecha, como Fratelli d´Italia, afanados en hacerse con la simpatía de aquellos que deambulan en su spectro ideológico, sin saber bien por quién decantarse delante de las urnas ante los comicios In progress.

The public expression of the movement took place on October 9 in Piazza del Popolo in Rome. The No Vax expressed their disapproval of the new policy put in place by the Government to fight against the pandemic which requires the Covid Certificate (green pass) to travel to work centers from October 15.

The act ended in altercations and attacks on the police when some of the participants violently burst into the headquarters of the CGIL, the country’s largest trade union, after approaching Palazzo Chigi, the headquarters of the government. For a moment, let’s recall the assault on the United States Capitol last January.

But who is hiding behind this current and the altercations?

This is the big question when it comes to analyzing the dangerous scope of these initiatives. The far-right political party Forza Nuova has become the main instigator, protected by the ambiguity of the major right-wing parties.

A nationalist and neo-fascist, he has voiced his resounding opposition to issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

In the last legislative elections of 2018, he won 0.38% of the vote in Parliament and 0.50% in the Senate, leaving him without representation in both chambers. Over the past year, he has strongly opposed pandemic restrictions, such as the requirement to wear masks. now him green pass This is the reason for his protest that his main speaker has on social networks, in addition to the dissemination of communications by Whatsapp and Telegram.

The party’s intervention in the demonstration also resulted in the arrest of its secretary and founder in 1997, Roberto Fiore, as well as that of Giulano Castellino, its strongman in the capital.

With a record full of altercations, assaults and drug dealing, Castellino is also a relevant name on the south curve of the Olympic Stadium during AS Roma football matches because, in the 90s of the last century, he was one of the architects of change. in the tendency to fascism of the Commando Ultrà Curva Sud (CUCS). His videos urging the masses to attack theaters, megaphone in hand, have been circulating on the internet and major television stations since last weekend.

Right condemns violence, but continues to navigate discursive ambiguity

It is precisely on Castellino that the criticisms of the most relevant voices of the Italian right have focused. Giorgia Meloni, president of Fratelli d’Italia, condemned the violence and threw a dart at the Ministry of the Interior for not anticipating the situation and allowing the participation of dangerous individuals, while demanding the right of those who demonstrated peacefully against a measure which he considered mismanagement by the government.

In the same vein, Matteo Salvini alluded to the irresponsibility of Minister Lucía Lamorgese for allowing the presence of conflicting people and, moreover, considered the current debate on fascism, Nazism or the Communism.

“Lavoro e salute” is the expression most used by Salvini in his television appearances in recent weeks. With the Lega in the government agreement, it does not position itself against the Covid Certificate, but it offers free tests and its validity for more hours to guarantee the right to work of citizens.

The leaders of both parties are now the protagonists of a dispute for the hegemony of the right in Italy. A clash to gain ideological influence in which speech represents a cornerstone and in which the committed position of the Lega as a member of the government stands out.

However, they agree to send an ambiguous message when asked about the possible outlawing of Forza Nuova and point to the prohibition of any movement of a violent nature regardless of its ideology.

A possible scenario for the banning of Forza Nuova

The attack on the CGIL was interpreted as a major threat to the foundations of democracy in Italy. Trade unions are powerful agents in the social and political context of the country, in large part because of their high number of members (more than eight million).

The CGIL is the largest union, with more than five and a half million members throughout the territory (UGT and CCOO total two million in Spain). His voice and position on workers’ rights is respected and valued by leaders. For this reason, Mario Draghi was quick to condemn the attack on the union’s headquarters and to show his solidarity by hugging Maurizio Landini, secretary of the organization.

Next weekend, Rome will once again experience intense days ahead of a politically hot autumn. A few hours before the celebration of the ballot (second round of municipal elections), the city is preparing to host a mass demonstration against fascism called by the CGIL itself with other unions such as the CISL and the UIL. The tension, a consequence of the recent fascist expression, has spilled over into the streets and political parties. Thus, the Democratic Party and Forza Italia presented two motions for the Constitution to prevail and prohibit the formation Forza Nuova.

In short, the soil that bathes Italy these days is the least worrying. The elections held last week seemed to give a break and stop the emergence of this type of movement with the victory of the left in the main squares. And even more in the face of the controversy raised by opponents of inoculation in recent months.

However, recent events have contributed to an extreme polarization of the debate around vaccination and green pass. The bond on the certificate will last until December 31. This will be an opportune time to assess its impact, not only for health purposes such as incitement to vaccination, but also to analyze the drift of the current against the process, as well as the dangerous groups that have been incorporated into it.

Pablo Gómez Iniesta, Predoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Communication, University of Castile-La Mancha

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Read the original.

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