Italy right-wing politician resigns over Mussolini controversy

Lega politician leaves economy ministry post over 'Parco Mussolini' debacle.

A right-wing member of the Italian government resigned after weeks of controversy over his proposal to rename a park after Benito Mussolini's brother.

Claudio Durigon, who was the undersecretary of the economy ministry, tendered his resignation last night following a meeting with his Lega party leader Matteo Salvini.

Durigon had proposed that the park in Latina, a Fascist-era seaside city south of Rome, revert to its original name of Parco Arnaldo Mussolini.

The park had been renamed after the magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino who were killed by the Mafia in Sicily in 1992.

In a statement Durigon apologised for his suggestion, raised during a political rally a few weeks ago, saying that it had been "made in good faith", reports news agency ANSA.

"I am sorry that I have been attributed a "fascist" identity, in which I do not recognise myself in any way" - he said - "I am not, and have never been, a fascist."

Durigon's proposal had caused significant political tensions in the government coalition of premier Mario Draghi, who so far has remained silent on the matter.

Giuseppe Conte, leader of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle, and Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), were both adamant that Durigon's position was untenable.

Who was Arnaldo Mussolini?

A younger brother and close advisor of Italy's Fascist dictator, Arnaldo Mussolini was a journalist and politician who directed the Popolo d'Italia newspaper, a propaganda tool for the regime.

He died from a heart attack in Milan, aged 46, in 1931.