France

Between the French and Italian far right, a long history


“Europe, free yourself. Today Italy, tomorrow France! » This is the fantasy expressed in recent weeks by Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, delighted by the prospect of the coming to power of the transalpine party Fratelli d’Italia (FI, “Brothers of Italy”), of Giorgia Meloni , following the general elections on 25 September. It was also the title of the front page of the first periodical of Ordre nouveau, the precursor party of the National Front (FN), in 1971, a few months before elections which would see 82 members of the neo-fascist party MSI (Italian Social Movement) enter in the Italian Parliament, with 9% of the vote.

How not to see, in the projections of the leaders of the French extreme right, the distant echo of this cry of the 1970s, even in the expression “liberation of Europe”, used by Marine Le Pen? For half a century, French nationalists have looked with envy at their transalpine counterparts. their financial means. their intellectual networks. their cultural existence. Their organization. And, of course, their election results.

Exchanges are first made from Paris to Rome. In the 1960s, Italian publishing houses translated collaborators Robert Brasillach and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle or Holocaust denier Maurice Bardèche, whom neo-fascist theorists revered. “These effects of cultural resonance contribute to the formation of a common Franco-Italian memory of the far right”underlines the historian Pauline Picco in Dangerous Liaisons. The extreme right in France and Italy (1960-1984) (Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2016), meticulous study of the relationship between nationalists of the two countries. François Duprat, key man in the creation of the National Front in 1972, is the one through whom these exchanges are intensified.

Tricolor flame and financial support

On the partisan level, the MSI is a model to follow for a French far right bogged down in its divisions and with infinitesimal electoral weight. Legalist strategy and unity, slogans, names, posters, logo: New Order, then the National Front copied the Italian “brother party” to excess. It remains, until today, the flame with the fascist symbolism, which the National Rally (RN) and Fratelli d’Italia have kept. “We used this tricolor flame because it seems to us the prettiest on the graphic market”, retorts, at the time, Jean-Marie Le Pen, before denying the links between the MSI and the FN – since largely documented. Supply of posters, financial support, attendance at congresses: the neofascists observe and encourage the development of the French extreme right, in a clear relationship of allegiance to each other.

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