The Italian Almanac

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Benito Mussolini

Casual Names

A small, far right Italian political party is offering a 1,500-euro cash incentive to parents in southern Italy to name their children after Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini or his wife Rachele. The Movimento Sociale-Fiamma Tricolore (MS-FT) said the offer was open to residents in five municipalities in the region of Potenza, where the population is in the low hundreds, who give birth in 2009.

The 1,500 euros will be given on the condition that, aside from naming the boys Benito and girls Rachele, the money be used to buy cribs, clothes, food or other products specifically made for newborns. According to the regional head of the MS-FT, Vicenzo Mancusi, the initiative ``does not resolve the problem of the region`s declining population, but it is a small attempt by a small party``.

The right-wing politician claimed that the choice of the names Benito and Rachele for the newborns set to receive the cash was ``purely casual. They`re nice names``. The small party`s name is a reference to the post-war Movimento Sociale Italiana (Italian Social Movement) neofascist party - which in turn was named after Mussolini`s Repubblica Sociale Italiana, created with Nazi support in northern Italy after he was toppled from power during World War II. Fiamma Tricolore refers to the party`s symbol of the green, white and red flame representing the Italian flag`s colors.

The towns where the incentives will be available are: Calvera, Carbone, Cersosimo, Fardella and San Paolo Albanese.