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Benito Mussolini's great-grandson is running for office in Italy

The Week logo The Week 09/04/2019 Tim O'Donnell
a man wearing a helmet: Benito Mussolini. © Keystone/Getty Images Benito Mussolini.

Mark Twain once said that "history doesn't repeat itself, but if often rhymes." That apparently holds true in Italy, as the great-grandson of former Prime Minister Benito Mussolini — the founder and leader of Italy's National Fascist Party, which was in power from 1922 and 1943 — will reportedly run in the upcoming European Parliamentary elections in May.

Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini will run as a representative of the Brothers of Italy, a far-right party. Named after Julius Caesar, the younger Mussolini is a former submariner in the Italian navy and also served as the Middle East representative for Italy's largest defense company. He has no political experience, but reportedly said he has "breathed politics" his entire life. He described himself as a "post-fascist who refers to those values in a non-ideological way."

The decision for the progeny of a dictator like Mussolini — who forged an alliance with Adolf Hitler during World War II and built a police state that oppressed political dissidents — to insert himself in politics, might seem like a bold one, if not outright shocking. But the legacy of Italy's former fascistic leader is not as muted in Italy as, say Hitler's is in Germany. Indeed, the elder Mussolini's granddaughter Alessandra Mussolini is already a sitting Member of European Parliament. Many physical remnants of the fascist dictator also remain standing and people even make pilgrimages to Mussolini's birthplace.

Perhaps this rare, but not invisible nostalgia for Il Duce, as Mussolini was known, was the impetus for his great-grandson to enter the political realm. As Mussolini told Il Messagero, a Rome-based newspaper, "So many people want to put Mussolini on the ballot."

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