The great-grandson of Italy’s fascist Prime Minister Benito Mussolini is running in next month’s European Parliament elections as a member of an Italian national-conservative opposition party, Brothers of Italy (BDI), which is most popular in the southern Italian regions.
In a written interview with the DPA, 51-year-old Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini said he was “proud” of his last name even though it was “often a burden” for him, and denied his campaign was inspired by some fascist nostalgia.
He noted that to cast a vote for him, his countrymen would have to write his last name, as is required by the election law.
“[#WriteMussolini] seems to me a very normal slogan", he said, going on to reject parallels between Mussolini, who was the head of the Italian government from 1922 to 1943, and Hitler. He referred to the two, arguing these are “two different people, two different countries, two different histories”.
Earlier this month, Italy’s two right-wing parties, Casa Pound and Forza Nuova, took part in protests in Torre Maura, an old Rome district, blocking the transfer of 70 Roma minority people in a local reception centre. According to Mussolini, to grasp such incidents as an indicator of new fascism “is a propaganda exaggeration from the left, which has no other arguments”.
He went on to say that in some areas “there is a lot of fear” of the Roma and that this sentiment “should be understood, not demonised”. Addressing the broader migration issue, Mussolini underscored that “in Italy, like in Germany”, migrants tend to account for worrisome crime statistics, also being over-represented in data on prison inmates.
"These are statistics. Which cannot be disputed", Mussolini asserted.
The BDI candidate, whose first name is that of the Roman Empire’s first emperor, was a navy officer in the past, as well as a Middle East representative for Finmeccanica, an Italian defence company that is now known as Leonardo.
He portrays himself as a “patriot” and admitted that he admired politicians who pursue their countries’ goals, like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, “but also” German Chancellor Angela Merkel. To win a seat in the 26 May elections, he will need not only to win a sufficient number of personal votes, but also that his party get over the 4 percent national threshold.
If elected, he would be the second Mussolini to have represented Italy, where one of the key political figures is currently right-wing Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, in the EU Assembly, after his cousin, Alessandra. Another member of his family, Rachele, is a Rome city councillor.