Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre who presided over the opening of Italy's parliament

Holocaust survivor presides over opening of Italy’s new right-wing parliament


Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor, presided over the opening of Italy’s parliament on Thursday. She recalled the dangers of fascism as the most right-wing coalition since World War Two took control of both the upper and lower houses.

Liliana Segre, at 92 years of age, is the oldest active member of the chamber.  This meant she could preside over the opening of Italy’s parliament. Segre was the only member of her Jewish family to survive the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp. As she opened parliament, she reminded those present of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the March on Rome that brought fascist leader Benito Mussolini to power.

“It is impossible for me not to feel a kind of vertigo remembering that the same little girl who, on a day like this in 1938, disconsolate and lost, was forced by racist laws to leave her empty desk at primary school, is now, by a strange twist of fate, at the most prestigious desk in the Senate,” Segre said.

The right-wing coalition set to take power is led by the Brothers of Italy (Fdl) party, which traces its roots back to a post-fascist group set up by supporters of Mussolini.

First duty of the Senate

The Senate‘s first duty is to elect a speaker. At the moment, it looks as if that will be a senior member of the Fdl – Ignazio La Russa. As the party with the majority of the votes (26%) in the election, they are likely to take a number of senior positions.  

A video of La Russa in his home, posted in 2018, showed he collected Mussolini memorabilia. Benito Mussolini ruled Italy for over 20 years. He introduced antisemitic laws which led to the death of nearly 6,000 Italian Jews in camps.

However, the Fdl leader Giorgia Meloni has tried to distance her party from the fascist history. She now says her party is a mainstream conservative force, like the U.S. Republican party.

Forming the new government

Now parliament is underway, the head of state will hold talks with party leaders about the formation of the new government.

Talks have not been as smooth as Meloni would like. Both Salvini and Berlusconi are demanding positions for their parties that Meloni does not wish to concede, sources have said.

An important role is the Economy Minister, with Italy’s economy heading into a depression and the energy crisis. Meloni has tried to get a respected technocrat into the role, which would reassure nervous investors. However, she has not found any willing to join her administration. To that end, it is likely to be a politician that takes the role. Currently, League deputy head Giancarlo Giorgetti is seen as a frontrunner for the position. He served as industry minister in the outgoing government,

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