Italy opposition cries foul after Meloni cracks down on raves
Giorgia Meloni's Brothers Riccardo Dalle Luche ANSA/AFP

The Italian opposition has voiced fears for public freedoms after the new far-right government stepped up fines and jail terms against the organizers and followers of illegal rave parties.

At the new cabinet's first meeting on Monday the draft legislation was approved, raising concern it could be used arbitrarily to shut down any type of public demonstration.

"It's a major error. Raves have no place in such a document. This calls into question public freedoms," Democratic Party secretary and former prime minister Enrico Letta posted on Twitter.

Writer Erri di Luca saw a "serious danger for open and free musical shows".

On Monday, police confiscated audio equipment worth 150,000 euros (dollars) when they intervened at a rave in the northern city of Modena.

A day earlier, police did not move against 2,000 people who gathered in Benito Mussolini's birthplace of Predappio to remember Italy's fascist dictator.

"Who decides what is dangerous? A rave or a gathering of blackshirts who insult our constitution," asked Democratic deputy Ilenia Malavasi on Tuesday.

For LGBT militant Dario Accolla, "They simply want to ban demonstrations."

Opposition leaders also hit out at government priorities after the inaugural cabinet meeting saw ministers, facing demands to help families and business cope with soaring inflation, decide instead to allow thousands of suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work and single out rave party organizers.

'The party's over'

Members of the government have backed the reform which slaps jail sentences of up to six years and fines of 10,000 euros on the organizers of illegal parties of more than 50 people who are liable to endanger public safety or health.

"The party's over," tweeted Matteo Salvini, anti-immigrant League party chief and minister of infrastructure.

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said similar legislation was "already in force in other countries".

The new law would save money locally and for the state by enabling such gatherings to be quickly closed down, he added.

The minister went on to declare the Modena rave and Predappio meeting "two totally different things".

"Predappio is a demonstration that has been held for many years. For the rave party there was a complaint from the owner" of the land, he said.

On Monday, the opposition had also condemned the appointment to government of a far-right deputy once photographed wearing a Nazi armband with a swastika.

Galeazzo Bignami, elected to parliament on the list of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's post-fascist Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), was named deputy infrastructure minister.

The 47-year-old attorney was photographed in 2005 wearing a Nazi armband at a party.

Meloni last month became Italy's first woman to lead a government after her party came first in September parliamentary elections.

She has sought to distance herself from that Mussolini legacy without entirely renouncing it.

Asked about the neo-fascist march in Predappio, Meloni told Italian reporters: "You know what I think, politically, it's very far from me."

Her coalition government is the most right-wing to take office in Rome since World War II and includes Salvini's League and former premier Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing Forza Italia.

© 2022 AFP