Nationalistic tones pollute Italy’s 78th Festa della Repubblica
June 3, 2024
Lorenzo Tremogli
Luca Mazzacane
(Pavia, Italy)

The 78th anniversary of the Italian Republic's founding was celebrated on Sunday in Rome, beginning with a solemn flag-raising ceremony at the Altare della Patria and a tribute to the Unknown Soldier. President Sergio Mattarella, accompanied by top state officials, laid a wreath of laurel at the monument.

Present at Piazza Venezia were Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Senate President Ignazio La Russa, Chamber of Deputies President Lorenzo Fontana, and Defense Minister Guido Crosetto. The Frecce Tricolori (Italian Jetfighters) performed a flyover, followed by the traditional parade at the Imperial Fora of Rome.

The parade featured various state components, including military and civilian personnel, among them 300 mayors. Armed and unarmed corps, flags and banners, and military bands also participated. This year's theme was "In Defense of the Republic, in Service of the Country."

President Mattarella remarked on the wisdom and foresight of the Italian Constitution in his message to the Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone. He emphasized that celebrating the Republic's birth underscores the values of identity and a constitution born from the extraordinary resurgence initiated by the Liberation struggle. Independence and freedom were described as daily conquests that must be defended with collective intent and cooperation for the common good.

Mattarella further reflected on the founding fathers' awareness of the risks and limits of national isolation, advocating for an Italy open to Europe and supportive of peoples worldwide fighting for their freedoms. He highlighted the precious contribution of the Italian Armed Forces to international peace and stability amid current devastations and civilian aggressions in Europe and the Middle East. Expressing gratitude to the Armed Forces, Mattarella acknowledged their efforts in UN missions, NATO solidarity and EU decisions. He honored those who lost their lives defending community values, contributing to a united, free and democratic Italy. The president extended heartfelt appreciation to all service members.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, addressing the European elections, called for a return to the original idea of Europe, which valued national specificity and strength in unity. She highlighted the extraordinary importance of the Republic Day, noting the need for the Republic, State, and Nation to face current uncertainties with responsibility. In a social media post, Meloni celebrated the Republic's 78th anniversary, honoring its history and traditions, and expressing gratitude to those who sacrificed for Italy's unity and democracy.

Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, in his message, described the unique role of the Armed Forces in defending the state, citizens and free institutions. He emphasized their contributions to international peace in conflict areas and highlighted Italy's efforts in humanitarian aid, notably in Gaza. Crosetto called for greater international collaboration to promote peace and stability, urging a decisive shift in European defense and security policies.

Senate President Ignazio La Russa commemorated the Republic Day as a time for reflection on Italy's journey since the 1946 referendum that established the Republic and the drafting of the Constitution. He stressed the importance of upholding the values of democracy, freedom and sovereignty.

Chamber of Deputies President Lorenzo Fontana reflected on the Republic Day as a reminder of Italy's post-war reconstruction and the guiding role of the Constitution. He expressed deep gratitude to those who sacrificed for freedom and democracy, hoping their example would inspire future generations.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed America's unwavering alliance and strategic partnership with Italy. He expressed gratitude for Italy's leadership during its G7 presidency and its efforts in addressing global challenges, including support for Ukraine.

The ceremony this year was unfortunately marked by nationalistic tones used by Meloni, La Russa and Crosetto. And we cannot forget the unfortunate intervention by Vice President of the Council of Ministers Matteo Salvini, who criticized Mattarella’s words and stated that today was a celebration of Italians and the Republic, not European sovereignty. He added that Italy has a President of the Republic because there is a Republic, an Italian national sovereignty. Salvini expressed his view of Europe as a collection of sovereign, autonomous and free states that share some resources and forces, but that national sovereignty is absolutely fundamental.

As Italians, we are lucky to have Mattarella as a President, the only person with a sufficient political weight to counter the nationalistic/alt-right tones of Salvini and Meloni. Unfortunately, time and longevity is not on Mattarella’s side, and Italy desperately needs a new political figure that can help Italy to maintain political integrity under the values of democracy, freedom and non-belligerency.

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