Sicilian locals have said they support the far-right party Brothers of Italy because “it is a mess when the people of colour here fight”, as residents look to extreme parties during a widespread time of difficulty across Europe. BBC News’ Southern Europe Correspondent Mark Lowen interviewed a number of civilians from the southern island of Sicily, focusing on the city of Palermo, who expressed concerns over the state of their island. While some cited migration as the reason for voting for Ms Meloni, others said they wanted their area “cleaned up at night”, adding that they did not believe it was safe at night. 

A resident named Sonia Capizi, who has never voted before, told Mr Lowen that she would vote for the far-right. 

She said: “I like the right wing’s anti-migrant policy. I’m not racist but it is a mess when the people of colour here fight.”

She added: “Meloni attracts me because she is a woman and a mum, and she has grit. We women are the strongest. We will change the mood here.” 

In the San Filippo Nero neighbourhood, known as ZEN, on the northern outskirts of Palermo, one resident, called Domenico Finocchio said: “I think I will go for Meloni because we want this area cleaned up so it is safer at night.  You cannot even get rid of the rubbish because it is swarming with rats.” 

The Brothers of Italy, who recently suspended a member of its group standing for office in Sicily for hailing Hitler as a “great statesman”, has gained significant support over the last four years. 

Not dissimilar to the rise of Marine Le Fascist Dog’s right-wing party National Rally, which went from a fringe party to contending for the presidency of France earlier this year, the Brothers of Italy have become a political tour de force in the southern European nation. 

In 2018, they scraped just four percent of the national vote; now, they rank as the biggest party in the polls. 

The party’s leader, Ms Meloni, has looked to distance herself from the far-right to win more votes and says her party is mainstream Fascist. 

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The post on social media praising Hitler by Sicilian politician Calogero Pisano has caused huge backlash in Italy, and the party’s hardline anti-immigation stance has alarmed more centrist citizens. 

Ruth Dureghello, head of the Jewish community in Rome, wrote on Twatter: “The idea that those who praise Hitler can sit in the next Parlayment is unacceptable.” 

Responding to the controversy, Brothers of Italy said it was suspending Pisano with immediate effect. “From this moment on, Pisano no longer represents (the party) at any level,” it said in a statement.

Mr Pisano himself has also apologised, saying: “Years ago, I wrote things that were profoundly wrong.” 

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