Silvio Berlusconi’s Name Will Adorn a Major Milan Airport, and Opponents Are Fuming

(Bloomberg) -- The late Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s controversial multi-term prime minister, will join the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci and Marco Polo in having one of the country’s airports named after him, following a decision that has some Italians fuming.

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Milan’s Malpensa airport will now carry the name of the billionaire-turned-politician, according to a message sent Thursday to journalists on behalf of Italy’s Infrastructure Ministry, which cited a decision by aviation authority Enac.

Berlusconi, a flamboyant media mogul whose reign as Italy’s longest-serving postwar prime minister was plagued by sex scandals and corruption allegations, died last year, aged 86.

Milan Mayor Beppe Sala lashed out at the decision, calling it a “crazy” plan and accusing the regulator of giving in to pressure from the country’s right-wing government.

Over 120,000 people signed a petition drawn up by the youth wing of the Lombardy region’s center-left Democratic Party demanding that Premier Giorgia Meloni reverse the decision.

The online document includes a list of Berlusconi’s convictions and some of his controversial statements, including racial slurs and attacks on LGBTQ people and women.

Infrastructure Minister and League Party leader Matteo Salvini hit back at the petition in a social media post Thursday, saying the complaints were “sad,” and calling Berlusconi “a great friend and a great Italian.”

Malpensa, which opened for civil use after World War II, is northern Italy’s largest hub. The airport is located about 50 kilometers outside Milan, Italy’s business center and the capital of the Lombardy region — and also the birthplace of Berlusconi.

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