Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
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Italian mayor faces calls to resign amid sexism row

Terni mayor Bandecchi slammed for vulgar outburst in council chamber.

The outspoken mayor of the central Italian town of Terni landed himself in a fresh controversy on Monday over his remarks during a council debate on combating violence against women.

Stefano Bandecchi, of the conservative Alternativa Popolare party, said: "A normal man looks at a woman's nice ass and maybe even tries it on with her. Then if he succeeds..., that's fine, if he doesn't he goes home instead".

Bandecchi was replying to councillor Cinzia Fabrizi, of the rightwing Fratelli d'Italia, after she criticised a November statement in which the mayor claimed that "anyone who has never cheated on their girlfriend is not normal".

Bandecchi, 62, said that all "normal" Italian men and women understand what he meant but noted that Italy is "full of imbeciles".

The centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) has called on Bandecchi to resign as mayor, a role for which he "once again demonstrates his unworthiness" to hold, in a statement signed by deputy Sara Ferrari, a member of the parliamentary commission of inquiry into femicide and all forms of gender violence.

"He proudly claims a "natural" justification of the predatory Italian male, incapable of relating to women except as recipients of his own pleasure" - the statement from the PD reads - "Unfortunately, it is precisely the "normalisation" of sexist reasoning, which recognises women as the object of "natural" and therefore uncontrollable male desire, that cripples the cultural battle against violence against women."

The rightwing Lega party also called for Bandecchi's resignation, claiming that he has "reduced the city council to a dive" with his "scurrilous and vulgar language, provocations, insults", news agency ANSA reports.

"It is not the first time that Bandecchi indulges in behaviour that reveals a total lack of culture of respect for women, as has already happened recently during a television programme and on many other occasions in which his words have gone beyond the limits of decency", the Lega said.

Bandecchi responded to the controversy on Monday with a sarcastic video on Instagram in which he said: "If you want to exile me, please can you send me to Elba? Because I'd like to follow the same path as Napoleon."

A self-made multimillionaire, Bandecchi founded the private Niccolò Cusano University in 2006 and was the owner of Ternana Calcio men's football club from 2017 to 2023.

Last August he made headlines for being physically restrained by police officers in Terni council chamber after threatening an opposition councillor with "knocking his teeth out".

Bandecchi has served as mayor of Terni - a large town located about 100 km north-east of Rome in the Umbria region - since May 2023.

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