The president of the European Parliament was forced to apologise on Thursday for defending Benito Mussolini and claiming that the Fascist dictator should be credited with some positive achievements.
Antonio Tajani, a centre-Right politician, said that Il Duce had done some “positive things” such as building roads and bridges before imprisoning political opponents, implementing draconian discrimination laws against Italian Jews, allying with Hitler and plunging Italy into war.
“You don’t have to agree with his methods… but let’s be honest, Mussolini built roads, bridges, buildings, sports installations, he remade many parts of our Italy,” he said during a radio interview.
“Generally speaking I don’t think his government action was positive. But things were done,” he added.
With some MEPs in Brussels and politicians in Italy calling for his resignation, Mr Tajani put out a statement apologising for his remarks.
“As a convinced anti-fascist, I apologise to all those who may have been offended by what I said.
“My remarks were in no way intended to justify or minimise an anti-democratic and totalitarian regime.”
In a tweet, he wrote: “The fascist dictatorship, racial laws and the deaths it caused are the darkest page in Italian and European history”.