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THE POLITICAL HISTORY of the Italian right in the 20th century and into the 21st has been dominated by the figure of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and his regime, which repressed political opposition for 20 years and led Italy into the catastrophe of World War II. Since the final fall of Mussolini in 1945, Italian right-wing parties have had to deal with his and the Fascist Party's (FNP) problematic legacy.

The term fascism comes from the Italian fascio, derived from the ancient Latin fasces, which referred to the bundle of lictors, or axe-headed rods, that stood for the sovereignty of the Roman Republic. The movement, of which Mussolini, a former Socialist Party member, became the leader, or duce, combined strong nationalism with an aggressive new ...

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