Silvio Berlusconi has sparked outrage among Italy’s political left by defending Mussolini at a commemoration ceremony for Nazi Holocaust victims.
Speaking on the margins of the event in Milan, the former Italian prime minister said the fascist wartime leader had been wrong to follow Nazi Germany’s lead in passing anti-Jewish laws but that in other respects he was a good leader.
“As part of this alliance, there were impositions, including combating and exterminating Jews,” he told reporters. “The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well,” he said, referring to laws
passed by Mussolini’s fascist government in 1938.
Berlusconi’s comments have been described as “disgusting” by the centre-left Democratic Party, which is leading the polls ahead of next month’s election.
It is not the first time Berlusconi has courted controversy by defending Mussolini whose status in Italy remains deeply ambiguous 67 years after he was executed by communist partisans while trying to escape to Switzerland in 1945.