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Italy's new parliament elects La Russa as senate speaker

La Russa made news in Italy this week over video showing his collection of fascist memorabilia.

Ignazio La Russa, a founding member of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdI), was elected the new speaker of the Italian senate on Thursday.

The 75-year-old former defence minister received 116 votes in a secret ballot, passing the required majority of 104, with 65 blank votes cast.

La Russa was elected despite a no-show from allies in the Forza Italia party of Silvio Berlusconi, 86, who returned to the senate nine years after being expelled from elected office following a tax fraud conviction.

Studies by political analysts appeared to show that La Russa was elected with the help of 19 senators from the opposition.

La Russa is a stalwart of the FdI whose leader Giorgia Meloni is poised to become Italy's next premier following the triumph of the right-wing alliance in the recent general election.

This week La Russa was the subject of controversy after a video from 2018 resurfaced in which he displayed his private collection of Mussolini memorabilia.

The senate proceedings on Thursday morning were presided over by Holocaust survivor and life senator Liliana Segre, 92, who opened the 19th term of parliament.

During a moving speech, for which she received a standing ovation, Segre recalled the dangers of fascism and noted that the centenary of Mussolini's March on Rome was just a couple of weeks away.

Voting to elect a speaker for the lower house takes place later on Thursday, tipped to go to Roberto Molinari, a member of the Matteo Salvini's Lega which is part of the right-wing alliance preparing to form a new government.

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