Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Monday (31.) appointed Galeazzo Bignami as Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Infrastructure, who in a photo in 2016 wore an armband with a swastika, a Nazi symbol. The picture from 2005 captures the MP at his bachelor party.
The case fueled debate over the Meloni government’s adherence to totalitarian ideologies. Politics is ultimately led by the Brothers of Italy, a party that has its roots in Benito Mussolini’s fascism the legend’s flag bears the design of a threecolor flame, a symbology associated with the movement.
Bignami, 47, a Meloni supporter, was reelected to Parliament in September. In a statement after his appointment, he said he was deeply ashamed of the image of the past and said he condemned “all forms of totalitarianism” and labeled Nazism as absolutely evil.
Meloni did not comment on the photo of his new state secretary. But in the last week he has also tried to break away from any similar ideology. “I have never felt any sympathy for antidemocratic regimes or been close to them,” he said in his first speech to parliament. “I have always considered the antiSemitic laws of 1938 to be the lowest point in Italian history, a shame that will forever haunt our people.”
Bignami will be undersecretary of the portfolio headed by Matteo Piantedosi, and his deputy is Matteo Salvini, leader of the League and one of the main faces of the Italian right.
The appointment was criticized by the largest Italian antifascist group, the National Federation of Italian Partisans, and by the opposition. Marco Furfaro, of the Democratic Party, shared the photo on a social network and wrote: “An indecency towards the Italian Constitution, memory, history and the victims of the swastika”.
Meloni also appointed Lega’s Claudio Durigon as Undersecretary of State for the Labor Ministry, a politician who resigned from a post at the Economy Ministry last year after proposing that the name of Arnaldo Mussolini, the fascist dictator’s brother, be named in a public square.
Another controversial name for the cabinet is that of Secretary of Defense Isabella Rauti, daughter of Pino Rauti, who was an associate of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), a party founded in 1946 by Mussolini supporters.
Also at the head of the Senate is a sympathizer of fascism: Ignazio La Russa, cofounder of the Brethren of Italy. His connection to Mussolini comes from the family: his father was the dictator’s party secretary.
La Russa, whose middle name is Benito, began his career in the youth department of the Italian social movement. In a 2018 video, he showed off the press photos, medals and mini statues of Mussolini he has at home.