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Berlusconi's new People of Freedom party aims to dominate Italian politics

NewPartyOfRight Yesterday's Times reported Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ambition to create a party of the Right for Italy that is as powerful and stable as Germany's CDU or Britain's Conservative Party.

Italy's political party system has long been fragmented and Italy's Left is more fragmented today than for many years.  But in a weekend of celebrations - costing nearly £3m - Berlusconi's Forza Italia party will merge with Gianfranco Fini's Alleanza Nazionale.  The new party will be called the Popolo della Liberta (PDL).  That's People of Freedom Party in English.

The Times highlights Mr Fini's efforts to distance his Alliance from his past:

"The Alleanza Nazionale evolved in 1994 from the MSI, or Italian Social Movement, the descendant of the outlawed Fascist party. It has spent much time and effort distancing itself from its unsavoury past: Mr Fini, a former neo-Fascist youth leader, has tried to establish a rapport with Italy's Jewish community and repudiated some of his own statements.  Mr Fini has made repeated trips to Israel, condemning Mussolini's 1938 anti-Semitic race laws and being photographed in a skull cap at the Holocaust Museum and the Wailing Wall. He has increasingly moved to the centre, attacking discrimination against immigrants and reaching out to Muslims as well as Jews."

Fini is currently a supporter of Berlusconi but, as The Economist has noted, has warned against "Caesarism" from Italy's increasingly powerful PM.

The PDL is expected to become the largest member of the EPP following June's elections to the European Parliament.

Italy's right-wing Northern League has chosen not to join the PDL.


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