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University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation

Can the Rise of Far-Right Parties Spark Extremist Violence?

November 22, 2022
Erika Ricci

Blog

In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Erica Ricci, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Central Florida, analyzes the connection between violence and the rise of extremist parties in Italy, the U.S., and around the world.

On September 25, Italy witnessed the victory of Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia party, the first far-right-led government in Italy since World War II. Although Meloni openly denounces fascist ideology, her slogan “God, family, fatherland” dangerously evokes the conservative policies, traditional social values, and rapprochement with the Catholic Church promoted by Italian fascists before the regime took power.

With the far right’s return to power, should we also expect the resurgence of political violence in Italy, much like what is happing across Europe and the US? My research suggests that the rise of far-right parties can spark both rightist and leftist violence and that a violent backlash may indeed happen in Italy, just like it did in the past.

Far-right parties are ascending globally. In the US, former President Trump gave voice to latent white supremacy and conservative policies, which continue to resonate with a radicalized Republican Party at the local, state, and federal levels. The January 6 insurrection exemplifies how the rise of far-right parties can lead to violence and undermine democracy. The same is true across Europe, where the rise of far-right parties has led to an increase in extreme right-wing political violence. Take the case of Hungary, where right-wing extremists are implementing a project of right-wing political change in the country. Far-right parties are gaining ground even in the most democratic European countries. In Sweden for instance, grievances about migration and identity have slowly moved the country toward right-wing populism.

Italy is quite familiar with extremist ideologies and the use of political violence to promote them. In the 1920s Mussolini built a totalitarian machine that suppressed rival parties, controlled the press, and surrounded the regime with fascist supporters. Italy became a dictatorship led by terror. In response, Italian citizens mobilized an effective resistance to fight the Nazi-fascism.

By the end of the 1960s, in the face of the economic crisis, miserable living conditions, radical inequalities, exploitation, and repression against the working class, the population had developed strong anti-fascist and anti-authoritarianism sentiment, questioned the legitimacy of the political institutions, and fought to gain important civil rights for workers, students, minorities, and women.

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.