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Tuesday 9 July 2024 09:07

Calls grow in Italy to stop Milan airport being named after Berlusconi

Backlash over new name for Malpensa airport as alternative suggestions pour in.There are growing calls in Italy to stop Milan's main airport from being named after the three-time former premier and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi who died last year aged 86.An online petition is calling on Italian premier Giorgia Meloni and transport minister Matteo Salvini to stop Malpensa airport being named after "such a divisive and controversial figure". The appeal, signed by more than 35,000 people, was launched by the youth wing of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) in the northern Lombardia area around Milan. "We believe that such a significant and representative place for our country should be named after a figure who embodies values of honesty, integrity and community service" - the petition reads - "Silvio Berlusconi does not reflect these values, as demonstrated by the numerous criminal convictions he received over the years." The controversy erupted on Friday evening after Salvini announced that a request by the Lombardia region to name the airport in honour of Berlusconi had been approved by Italy's civil aviation authority ENAC. Salvini pledged that he was ready to sign the proposal into reality, "in memory of my friend Silvio, a great entrepreneur, a great Milanese and a great Italian." The news was welcomed by Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia party but sparked an outcry among opposition politicians. It also led to a wave of indignation and irony on social media, with many comments referencing Berlusconi's infamous "Bunga Bunga" parties. One of the most significant political figures against the name-change is Milan's centre-left mayor Beppe Sala who alleges that the approval from ENAC was given without consulting SEA, the company that runs Milan's airports, Malpensa and Linate. "Two things no longer exist in Italy: a minimum of respect for institutional etiquette and the independence of public bodies", said Sala, claiming that the procedure was implemented "without absolutely listening to SEA", reports Corriere della Sera. Sala recently blocked attempts to name Linate airport after Berlusconi, who dominated public life in Italy for decades and was mired in numerous scandals and trials for corruption, fraud and underage sex charges. The mayor has also repeatedly voiced his opposition to waiving Italy's mandatory 10-year wait after a person's death before public places can be named after them. In a provocative Facebook post that was subsequently deleted, the PD vice-president of Biella city council Greta Cogotti suggested dedicating a "massage centre with a happy ending" to Berlusconi instead of an airport. Marco Grimaldi, of the Green-Left Alliance (AVS), said he "would be ashamed to take a flight from Falcone and Borsellino Airport [the Palermo airport named after the slain anti-Mafia judges] and land at Silvio Berlusconi Airport", adding: "After the state funeral, the national mourning and the postage stamp, enough is enough." The airport's proposed name-change has also prompted a series of alternative suggestions of illustrious Milan figures, including Italy's first woman pilot Rosina Ferrario, poet Alda Merini, legendary dancer Carla Fracci, architect Gae Aulenti, novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni, and the ambassador Luca Attanasio who was killed in an ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2021. Photo credit: Alessia Pierdomenico / Shutterstock.com.

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There are growing calls in Italy to stop Milan's main airport from being named after the three-time former premier and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi
who died last year
aged 86. An
online petition
is calling on Italian premier Giorgia Meloni and transport minister Matteo Salvini to stop Malpensa airport being named after "such a divisive and controversial figure". The appeal, signed by more than 35,000 people, was launched by the youth wing of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) in the northern Lombardia area around Milan. "We believe that such a significant and representative place for our country should be named after a figure who embodies values of honesty, integrity and community service" - the petition reads - "Silvio Berlusconi does not reflect these values, as demonstrated by the numerous criminal convictions he received over the years." The controversy erupted on Friday evening after Salvini announced that a request by the Lombardia region to
name the airport in honour of Berlusconi
had been approved by Italy's civil aviation authority ENAC. Salvini pledged that he was ready to sign the proposal into reality, "in memory of my friend Silvio, a great entrepreneur, a great Milanese and a great Italian." The news was welcomed by Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia party but sparked an outcry among opposition politicians. It also led to a wave of indignation and irony on social media, with many comments referencing Berlusconi's infamous "
Bunga Bunga
" parties. One of the most significant political figures against the name-change is Milan's centre-left mayor Beppe Sala who alleges that the approval from ENAC was given without consulting SEA, the company that runs Milan's airports, Malpensa and Linate. "Two things no longer exist in Italy: a minimum of respect for institutional etiquette and the independence of public bodies", said Sala, claiming that the procedure was implemented "without absolutely listening to SEA", reports Corriere della Sera. Sala recently blocked attempts to name Linate airport after Berlusconi, who dominated public life in Italy for decades and was mired in numerous scandals and trials for corruption, fraud and underage sex charges. The mayor has also repeatedly voiced his opposition to waiving Italy's mandatory 10-year wait after a person's death before public places can be named after them. In a provocative Facebook post that was subsequently deleted, the PD vice-president of Biella city council Greta Cogotti suggested dedicating a "massage centre with a happy ending" to Berlusconi instead of an airport. Marco Grimaldi, of the Green-Left Alliance (AVS), said he "would be ashamed to take a flight from Falcone and Borsellino Airport [the Palermo airport named after the
slain anti-Mafia judges
] and land at Silvio Berlusconi Airport", adding: "After the
state funeral
, the
national mourning
and the
postage stamp
, enough is enough." The airport's proposed name-change has also prompted a series of alternative suggestions of illustrious Milan figures, including Italy's first woman pilot Rosina Ferrario, poet Alda Merini, legendary dancer
Carla Fracci
, architect Gae Aulenti, novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni, and the ambassador
Luca Attanasio
who was killed in an ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2021. Photo credit: Alessia Pierdomenico / Shutterstock.com.
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