Italy’s neo-fascists get a boost from anti-migrant sentiment

While analysts doubt it can achieve broad voter acceptance, CasaPound is among a growing movement of nationalist, anti-establishment politics across Europe. Last week, the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany party, founded just four years ago, finished third in elections to secure seats in the national parliament.

ROME — Created as a social movement to help underprivileged Italians, a small neo-fascist group has been grabbing headlines and gaining notoriety with its fierce opposition to migrants arriving in Italy.

But CasaPound, which combines progressive policies such as gay rights and abortion with die-hard nationalism, is also attracting supporters across Italy, where fascism never disappeared despite the collapse of dictator Benito Mussolini’s regime seven decades ago.

The group is riding a tide of anti-migrant sentiment as it seeks inroads into Italian politics with the ambition of entering parliament next spring and government in a decade.

While analysts doubt it can achieve broad voter acceptance, CasaPound is among a growing movement of nationalist, anti-establishment politics across Europe. Last week, the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany party, founded just four years ago, finished third in Germany’s election to secure seats in the national parliament.

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Founded in 2003 as a group of squatters claiming housing for needy families, CasaPound takes its name from Ezra Pound, the American poet who was a Mussolini sympathizer and who identified rent as a form of usury, one of the group’s founding principles.

The group’s fierce opposition to the unabated arrival of migrants, along with its defense of marginalized Italians, has helped it grow in recent years from 5,000 members in 2013 to the 20,000 it claims today.

Long identified in Italy as a violent spark in larger protests, CasaPound has recently been active in disrupting efforts to house…

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