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Mussolini strikes out

Rome, Nov. 30 (Reuters): Alessandra Mussolini said today she would form her own political party, after quitting the right-wing National Alliance this week when its leader publicly condemned her grandfather Benito, Italy’s Fascist dictator.

“I’ve decided to form a new political entity because of the inconsistency within the National Alliance which means less respect from the electorate,” Mussolini said in a telephone interview from her home in Rome.

The 40-year-old has long been at odds with party leader and deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini, who shifted the National Alliance more to the centre and this week visited Israel to symbolically cut the party’s ties to fascism.

“He said fascism was an absolute evil and with my name I couldn’t stay,” said Mussolini, who on her first day in parliament asked to sit in her grandfather’s chair.

Last year she threw down the gauntlet to Fini for the National Alliance leadership, saying Italy’s third-largest party needed “a big shaking up,” but later withdrew her challenge.

The once-aspiring actress and model quit the party on Thursday and originally said she would join a group of non-aligned politicians in the lower house of parliament. At the weekend she changed her mind.

“Lots of people were asking me to,” said Mussolini, a magnet for nostalgic Italians who built her political career on vows to restore her grandfather’s ideals of hard work and pride.

But she was keeping her cards close to her chest today, declining to discuss support or specifics about the new party.

“We already have a name and there will be a reference to women and memory. I’m a woman, not a man, so of course there will be an emphasis on women,” she said. “And naturally I’ll stay on the centre-right,” she added, saying there would be a launch press conference next week.

Mussolini rocketed to political prominence in 1992 on the back of the country’s most famous last names — that of her film-star aunt, Sofia Loren, and her dictator grandfather.

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