Far-Right interior minister Matteo Salvini has been criticised for failing to attend the annual celebration of Italy’s overthrow of fascism.
Mr Salvini, who leads the anti-immigration League party, on Thursday became the first top-level politician to skip the Liberation Day ceremony that marks the triumph of Italy’s resistance against the Nazi occupation.
Last year the League’s leader appeared to cast himself as the inheritor of Benito Mussolini’s legacy, tweeting ‘tanti nemici, tanti onore’ (so many enemies, so much honour) on the former dictator’s birthday after criticism of his xenophobic speeches. Il Duce coined the phrase, ‘molti nemici, molti onore’.
Mr Salvini, 46, chose instead to visit the Sicilian city of Corleone, where he paid tribute to the anti-mafia police.
“I won’t be marching here or there, wearing red handkerchiefs …” Mr Salvini said, in a reference to the Communist party’s presence at Liberation Day. “I’m going to Corleone to support the police force in the heart of Sicily”.
Mr Salvini’s unprecedented decision further strained the uneasy alliance between the League and anti-establishment Five Star Movement, who together form the coalition government.
Five Star leader and deputy premier Luigi Di Maio slammed his rival party chief in a visit to a synagogue on Thursday.