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Italians face return of military service

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Matteo Salvini. Photo: Reuters

Matteo Salvini. Photo: Reuters

Matteo Salvini. Photo: Reuters

Italy is considering reinstating compulsory national service for its restless young citizens, according to its hard-line interior minister Matteo Salvini.

Mr Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, called for a return to military service, saying: "Above and beyond 'rights' I would like to see a return to there being 'duties'."

Speaking at a rally in Lesina, Puglia, he added: "We are doing well to study the costs, ways and timings for evaluating if, how and when to reintroduce - for a few months - obligatory military and civil service to our boys and girls, so at least they learn a bit of 'education' that mum and dad are not capable of teaching them."

Mr Salvini has repeatedly expressed his support for compulsory military service, both as a tool for social cohesion and integration, as well as for training young people to use arms responsibly.

He did military service at the Montello barracks in Milan, which in 2016 were repurposed as a holding centre for 300 asylum seekers, prompting the far-right leader to personally attend neighbourhood protests calling for their relocation.

His party drafted legislation last year proposing conscription but failed to gain parliamentary support.

The League's coalition partner, the populist Five Star Movement, is unlikely to back the proposal, given that it is not part of the government "contract" the alliance agreed to as budget priorities

But Mr Salvini has emerged as the most prominent voice of Italy's government, despite accusations of reviving Fascist era sensibilities.

France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands all suspended or abolished the draft in the 1990s. Sweden and Germany followed suit in 2010 and 2011.

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