Hoping to move fully into the political mainstream, Italy’s right wing National Alliance party has officially called it a day.
The second biggest force in the governing coalition, it is now to formally fold into Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s “Freedom” bloc.
Evoking the creation of the National Alliance in 1995, leader Gianfranco Fini said that was when the first seed of what has become the “Freedom” movement was sown.
“We spoke to all Italians with post-ideological logic, a logic aimed at the future, a more modern, more European logic, based on a two-party system,” he told delegates at a closing congress in Rome.
Commentators say Fini, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, is waiting in the wings to take over from Berlusconi should he decide to retire. While the 72-year-old is the boss for now, Fini said Berlusconi accepts that his overwhelming leadership can, in no way, become a personality cult.
The National Alliance was the successor to the Italian Social Movement, started by supporters of Mussolini after his death.
The handover of power to Fini did not totally change the party’s image. But, having made controversial comments in the past, he has long since turned his back on fascist ideology.