ROME — Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Rome on Saturday for an “Italian Pride” rally involving the right-wing League, the far-right Brothers of Italy party, and former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
The League, which remains Italy’s largest party despite leader Matteo Salvini’s failed bid for the premiership, called for the mass demonstration against the government forged by two former archrivals, the center-left Democrats and the 5-Star Movement, to avoid a snap election after the crisis triggered by Salvini.
Amid national flags and “Salvini Premier” banners, the right-wing alliance staged an uneasy show of unity, downplaying internal frictions among Salvini, Berlusconi and Giorgia Meloni, the Brothers of Italy leader who has become more prominent as the country shifts further to the right.
The dominant roles of Salvini and Meloni in the right-wing alliance, which likely will run at the next general elections, became evident as Berlusconi — once the popular kingmaker of Italian politics — was booed by dozens of demonstrators who were openly impatient to see Salvini take the stage.
Meloni stirred the crowd with a speech focused on Italian identity, “traditional” family values and old-style patriotism.
“We are people. And we have our identity,” she said as people in the piazza shouted her name. “I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, and I am Christian, and you cannot take that away from me.”
The neo-fascist group CasaPound also joined Saturday’s rally, sparking political tensions within the center-right moderates. CasaPound’s supporters were relegated to a corner of the crowded San Giovanni square — a traditional venue for leftist and union rallies — and were closely escorted by police.
“We think it is the right moment to unite rather than divide,” said CasaPound leader Simone Di Stefano. “Among other things, we won’t run for election anymore, so there is no reason to stay away from this piazza.”
Print Headline: Right-wing parties hold rally in Italy