Italy´s Mussolini Says Quits Right-Wing Party (REUTERS) By Philip Pullella ROME, ITALY Additional reporting by Antonella Ciancio11/27/03 08:41 AM ET)
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ROME (Reuters) - Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Italy´s
wartime Fascist dictator, said on Thursday she was quitting the right-
wing National Alliance, in the week that the party edged further to
center of Italian politics.
The leaders of the party, Italy´s third-largest, immediately went
into a huddle with the 40-year-old Mussolini to try to convince her
to change her mind.
Mussolini has long been at odds with party leader, Deputy Prime
Minister Gianfranco Fini, who has shifted the National Alliance more
to the center and just completed a controversial trip to Israel where
he denounced Italy´s Fascist past.
There, he condemned Benito Mussolini for the racial laws that led to
the deportation and death of some 6,000 Italian Jews in Nazi camps
and said he had been mistaken in 1994 when he praised the dictator as
a great statesman.
Alessandra Mussolini was quoted as telling the Italian news agency
Ansa that she had decided to quit the party because it appeared it
was "incompatible with my last name."
She said she would remain a member of the lower house Chamber of
Deputies and join a group of non-aligned lawmakers.
Last year Alessandra Mussolini challenged Fini for the leadership of
Italy´s biggest right-wing party, saying it needed "a big shaking
up." She later withdrew her challenge.
The National Alliance is the successor to the neo-Fascist Italian
Social Movement party, which was disbanded in 1994 to form the new
Alessandra Mussolini rocketed to political prominence in 1992 on the
back of Italy´s most famous last names -- that of her dictator
grandfather and of her film-star aunt, Sofia Loren.
The once-aspiring actress and model has often said that she is
fiercely proud to be a descendant of Benito Mussolini, who ruled
Italy with an iron fist for over two decades.
A magnet for nostalgic Italians, the blonde, dark-eyed Mussolini
built her political career on vows to restore her grandfather´s
ideals of hard work and pride to a nation whose reputation was hurt
by political corruption scandals.
On her first day in parliament, Mussolini asked to sit in her
"My grandfather was a great man, I have a bust of him in my bedroom.
What I want to do is bring the honesty of his character into
parliament," she said during her 1992 election campaign.
During that campaign nostalgic Italians flocked to her, bearing dog-
eared pictures of "Il Duce," and giving her the Roman salute, one of
her grandfather´s trademarks.
Benito Mussolini was overthrown by his own followers in 1943. The
Germans freed him from jail and set him up at the head of a puppet
regime in northern Italy until the end of the war, when he was
executed by partisans. (Additional reporting by Antonella Ciancio)
(© Reuters 2003 11/27/03)
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