Mirko Tremaglia, 85, a right-wing politician who won a decades-long battle for the right of Italian emigres to vote in Italian elections, died Friday at his home in Bergamo, northern Italy, after a long illness.

Mr. Tremaglia was a cofounder of the Italian Social Movement, a neo-fascist party built on the ashes of Benito Mussolini's political legacy. But he gradually moved toward what is now Italy's center-right - first as a leader of the National Alliance and then as a prominent member of Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives - before breaking with the media mogul in 2010 to defect to a new center-right party.

Mr. Tremaglia campaigned tirelessly in Parliament for rights for millions of Italians who had emigrated, or who were born to emigre parents, to cast ballots in Italian elections.

His dream became law in 2001, the same year he became minister for Italians abroad, in one of Berlusconi's governments.

In 2004, as a minister in then-premier Berlusconi's government, Mr. Tremaglia caused an uproar when he complained about what he called the influence of gays in the European Union and used a pejorative term for homosexuals in remarks carried by Italian media. - AP