Where does the flame of the Brothers of Italy symbol come from

In recent days there has been much discussion of the statements of the leader of the Brothers of Italy Giorgia Meloni, who in a video addressed to the foreign press said that “the Italian right has handed over fascism to history for decades, unambiguously condemning the deprivation of democracy and the infamous anti-Jewish laws ”.

What many considered Meloni’s distancing from fascism seemed to others a still weak declaration, considering the contiguity of some exponents of the Brothers of Italy with the Italian far right and neo-fascism. Labor Minister Andrea Orlando, of the Democratic Party, he said for example that to be more convincing, Meloni should remove the tricolor flame from the symbol of his party, an image that has accompanied all the far-right parties in Italian republican history.

The tricolor flame was first and foremost the symbol of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the party founded in 1946 by former fascists and members of the Italian Social Republic, and which for almost fifty years was the main far-right party in Italy. The flame design was included in the party symbol from the beginning, but it is not clear who chose it and for what reason. The youth movement of the MSI, the Young Italy, instead used a tricolor torch as a symbol.

The flame, which according to some versions was designed by Giorgio Almirante himself, former leader of the fascist regime and collaborationist of the Nazis before becoming the historic leader of the MSI, in itself has no direct connection with the Fascist period, where the most used symbol was the fasces. How has explained Tomorrow, there is some link with the symbolism of the Arditi, the army unit that played an important role in the founding myth of fascism, and which were nicknamed “black flames” (but other departments were also called this way, such as the Alpini, the “flames greens”). Another popular theory says that the trapezoid that encloses the writing MSI (without the dot after the final I, by the way) represents the tomb of Benito Mussolini, and the flame a lit lamp.

Giorgio Almirante during an MSI demonstration in Milan in 1987 (ANSA)

What is certain is that the flame has been used by almost all the neo-fascist and post-fascist parties of Italy, even after the dissolution of the Italian Social Movement in 1995, and that therefore it has become a symbol by which many right-wing voters feel represented. .

With the so-called “Fiuggi turning point” of 1995, the Italian right founded a new party, Alleanza Nazionale, which sought to move away from the more extremist policies of the MSI to become a more modern, Atlanticist and Europeanist right-wing party, which could aim for a wider electorate than in the past. Despite the renewing intentions of the National Alliance and its then leader Gianfranco Fini, the tricolor flame remained in the party symbol, with the initials MSI at the base. The tricolor torch, on the other hand, was adopted as a symbol by the party’s youth movement, Youth Action, which also retained a lot of black, the color associated with fascism which instead disappeared from the symbol of the National Alliance, replaced by blue.

Giorgia Meloni in 2004, when she was president of Youth Action (GIULIO NAPOLITANO / LAPRESSE)

Giorgia Meloni in 2004, when she was president of Youth Action (GIULIO NAPOLITANO / LAPRESSE)

It remained so until the dissolution of the National Alliance in 2009, when the party merged with Forza Italia into the Popolo della Libertà (PDL). The flame disappeared from the symbol and its right of use remained the property of a foundation. Meanwhile, the tricolor flame, designed in a different way, had been used by other right-wing parties, such as Francesco Storace’s La Destra.

Three years later, in December 2012, some politicians of the PDL who were critical of the party’s too moderate line decided to go out to found a new right-wing party that would restart from the history of the National Alliance.

Giorgia Meloni, Ignazio La Russa and Guido Crosetto then founded Fratelli d’Italia, whose symbol initially provided only the name of the party and a tricolor cord. Two years later, in 2014, the party obtained from the National Alliance Foundation the possibility of using the symbol of the old party, which was included in a circle within that of the Brothers of Italy. Then the tricolor flame returned and also the word MSI

Ignazio La Russa in 2004 with the symbol of the National Alliance behind him (ROBERTO MONALDO / LAPRESSE)

Ignazio La Russa in 2004 with the symbol of the National Alliance behind him (ROBERTO MONALDO / LAPRESSE)

It was a rather debated decision, above all due to the opposition of Guido Crosetto, who had never played in the National Alliance and who had a more moderate political past than many of his party colleagues. In 2017 the logo was renewed, and any reference to the National Alliance and the Italian Social Movement was eliminated. But the flame remained.

The possibility that the Brothers of Italy can eliminate the flame from the symbol has already been talked about for some years: in 2019 Crosetto said that it was a topic that had been discussed in the party, while La Russa rejected this hypothesis by saying that “we hypothesized that tomorrow the symbol of Fratelli d’Italia can be modified, even partially, but perhaps the last thing to do would be to remove the flame that today represents, not only for the children and grandchildren of the Italian right, the undisputed sign of coherence and an attachment to national values ​​and the normal continuation of a political commitment in which honesty and courage have been recognized by all ».

Giorgia Meloni during a rally last July 20 (LaPresse)

Giorgia Meloni during a rally last July 20 (LaPresse)

Meloni’s latest statements, especially in light of the polls that show her as the most popular candidate among voters ahead of September 25, have renewed the debate on the flame. On Friday, life senator Liliana Segre commented on Meloni’s statements on fascism a Jewish Pages, the monthly of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, saying that «in my life I have heard of everything and more, the words therefore do not strike me more than a little. To Giorgia Meloni I say this: you start by removing the flame from her party logo ».

The vice president of Emilia-Romagna Elly Schlein said that “if you leave the flame in the symbol, two minutes of video are not enough to clear away ambiguities. Meloni did not say a simple thing, that there will be no nostalgic fascists on the lists. Can he say it or not? ‘ According to the former Speaker of the Chamber Laura Boldrini, the flame is also a «representation of the regime rising from the dictator’s tomb. It is not enough to declare oneself non-fascist, our Constitution is anti-fascist ».

An answer for now has only come from Fabio Rampelli, vice president of the Chamber of the Brothers of Italy, according to whom «the flame is a symbol of the second post-war period that has nothing to do with the totalitarianisms of the twentieth century. The symmetrical symbol of the hammer and sickle is the Nazi swastika and the fasces and all three have been stigmatized by the European Parliament by a resolution ».

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Where does the flame of the Brothers of Italy symbol come from – Il Post