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Sixty-five years after the fall of Mussolini, the fascists are back at the gates of Rome. Leading the charge is Gianni Alemanno, a firebrand leader of Italy's neo-fascists, whose promise to get tough with illegal immigrants is threatening to knock the left out of city hall when Rome votes in the second round of the mayoral election this weekend.
The fact there is even going to be a run-off vote is a major embarrassment to the left. Last time around, its candidate Walter Veltroni won outright, capturing nearly two-thirds of the votes. But this year, the centre-left candidate Francesco Rutelli, who ran Rome between 1993 and 2001, won just 46 per cent with Mr Alemanno on 40 per cent and forcing a second round.