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Italy’s frontrunner party suspends candidate over Hitler praise

The Brothers of Italy party (Fratelli d’Italia, FdI), which is tipped to win national elections at the weekend, suspended one of its candidates on Tuesday after he was found to have praised Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in online posts.

Brothers of Italy was set up after World War II. Its leader Giorgia Meloni, expected to be Italy’s next prime minister, has looked to distance herself from the far-right and says her party is mainstream conservative.

La Repubblica, a moderate left wing newspaper, known for its critical stance towards right wing Italian politicians, published a social media comment this week that was posted eight years ago by party candidate Calogero Pisano, hailing Hitler as a “great statesman”.

Pisano, who was standing for election on the island of Sicily, also in a 2016 post praised someone for defining Ms Meloni as a “modern fascist”, writing that Fdl had “never hidden its true ideals”.

Responding to the controversy, Brothers of Italy said it was suspending Pisano with immediate effect. “From this moment on, Pisano no longer represents (the party) at any level,” it said in a statement.

Pisano himself clarified: “Years ago, I wrote things that were profoundly wrong,” he said on Facebook, adding that he had removed the posts some time ago.

The Fdl identifies ideologically with radical conservatism, nationalism, nativism, and opposition to immigration. At the European-level, FdI is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party, of which Ms Meloni has served as president since September 2020.

Ms Meloni has stated that FdI proposes a “confederal Europe of nations” as opposed to a federal Europe.

Brothers of Italy is widely expected to emerge as Italy’s largest single party at the September 25 vote and lead an alliance of right-wing parties to a comfortable victory.

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