The first session of the new Italian Parliament has opened with an emotional speech by a Holocaust survivor after a far-right party won last month’s general election.
Liliana Segre, a 92-year-old senator-for-life, was the only member of her Jewish family to survive the Auschwitz concentration camp. She reminded parliamentarians of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the mass demonstration and coup d’etat that brought fascist leader Benito Mussolini to power.
“In this month of October, which marks the centenary of the March on Rome that began the Fascist dictatorship, it falls to me to temporarily assume the presidency of this temple of democracy, which is the Senate of the republic,” Segre told the hushed chamber.
“It is impossible for me not to feel a kind of vertigo remembering that the same little girl who, on a day like this in 1938, disconsolate and lost, was forced by racist laws to leave her empty desk at primary school, is now, by a strange twist of fate, at the most prestigious desk in the Senate.”
Segre’s speech was met with a standing ovation from the 200 parliamentarians in attendance, including the newly elected Senate speaker Ignazio La Russa, who once showed off his Mussolini memorabilia.
La Russa, a senior member of incoming Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s nationalist Brothers of Italy party, was elected speaker of the upper house on Thursday despite a revolt within the right-wing coalition that won the general election.
Political sources have said that forming the coalition cabinet has proved unexpectedly complicated with leaders demanding positions for their parties that Meloni has been unwilling to concede.
Meloni and her allies – the anti-immigrant League, headed by Matteo Salvini, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia group – face a daunting task with the economy heading into recession, energy prices soaring and the war in Ukraine still raging.__Al Jazeera