Andreotti Rejects Charges That His Government is Lax in Preventing Fascist Resurgence

Italian Premier Guilio Andreotti rejected accusations today that his government has been lax in preventing a resurgence of fascism. Andreotti was replying to questions in Parliament at the end of one of the most violent sessions in recent years. Neo-fascist and left-wing deputies insulted each other, punched each other and hurled objects across the chamber as ushers struggled to restore order.

Andreotti also rejected Communist accusations that his government manages to survive only because of the tacit support of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) which is now Italy’s fourth largest political movement with 56 Deputies in the House and 26 Senators. The MSI came under parliamentary attack following a rally last month in Milan in which some of its leaders were involved and in which a young policeman was blasted apart by a hand grenade.

Although the MSI has disclaimed any link with two right-wingers arrested in connection with the killing, Andreotti said: “When (MSI) Senators and Deputies are in the front ranks of a banned march which resulted in the killing of a policeman, they may not be guilty on a penal basis, but they are certainly guilty politically.” Andreotti had been asked to outlaw the party on the basis of a 1956 law that bans the resurrection of fascism under any guise.

The Premier, however, said only that his government is “ready to adopt urgent measures directly if this proved necessary and adviseable” and indicated that the “spiral of violence” involving both the right and left should more properly be left to the courts. Andreotti did say that Italians had failed to realize the fascist danger in time 50 years ago, and that it is now necessary for them to be “zealously aware” in order to isolate and crush outbreaks of authoritarianism. “Either the spiral of hatred is broken, or our institutions will be damaged and polluted,” he warned.

In leaving fascism to the courts, political observers said Andreotti was relying more on good intentions than on hard facts. The Premier had said that of 173 cases alleging violations of the 1956 Anti-Fascism Law brought before courts last year, only a handful had been resolved. Andreotti said he is considering a modification of the 1956 law which would make it easier to appeal directly to the Supreme Court whenever a resurrection of fascism is suspected. The president of the court has recently criticized the government for not being energetic enough against the extreme right.

The Premier then gave some figures which he said were at the same time both encouraging and alarming. Last year, he said, police arrested 168 persons in connection with extremist violence, exactly half of whom were rightists and half leftists. He said police raids also netted more than 4.3 million rounds of ammunition, 83,363 hand grenades, 9943 rifles and 5771 pistols. This, he noted, was probably only a proportion of the weaponry available to extremists.

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