28 Jan 2013

Berlusconi remarks praising Mussolini stir controversy

11:08 am on 28 January 2013

There has been a furious reaction to remarks made by the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in which he defended the legacy of Mussolini.

Mr Berlusconi said the country's wartime leader, Benito Mussolini, had been wrong to pass anti-Jewish laws but had otherwise been a good leader.

The anger of Mr Berlusconi's critics has been heightened by the fact that he chose to make his comments at an event held to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Mr Berlusconi, who heads a coalition that includes groups with fascist roots, has not ruled out another stint as prime minister if his party wins polls next month, the BBC reports.

His People of Freedom (PDL) party is hoping to form a centre-right coalition government with another party after elections on 24-25 February, but have not named a candidate for prime minister.

The comments were swiftly condemned by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which is ahead in the polls.