Mussolini’s photo will be removed from the wall of the Italian Ministry | Benito Mussolini

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A photo of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini hanging on the wall of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development will be removed to “avoid controversy”, said the outgoing minister.

Newly elected Senate President Ignazio La Russa, a co-founder of the Brothers of Italy who collects fascist memorabilia, criticized the move as an example of a “cancellation culture”.

The “troubling fact” of the presence of the photo was revealed by the Cgil union, following confirmation by public administration agents.

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy, a party with neo-fascist roots, will become prime minister after leading a coalition including Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to a decisive victory in the elections on 25 september.

Giancarlo Giorgetti, outgoing Minister of Economic Development and deputy head of the League, said the photo was part of an exhibition titled Awesome Italy (Brilliant Italy), marking this year the 90th anniversary of the opening of Palazzo Piacentini, the ministry’s headquarters in Rome, and included photos of all former ministers of the department. Mussolini was Minister of Corporations in 1932.

Giorgetti said a photo of Mussolini also hangs in the “Gallery of Prime Ministers” in Palazzo Chigi, the Italian prime minister’s official residence.

“No one realized it,” he said of the Palazzo Chigi photo.

He said the photo at the Economy Ministry would be taken down. “If there is a problem, we will remove it, to avoid controversy and exploitation.”

The presidents of both houses of parliament were elected last week as part of the first formal steps towards forming Meloni’s government.

Amid condemnation from Cgil and left-wing politicians over the photos, La Russa revealed that another of Mussolini was on display at the Defense Ministry. “I mean, do we also have to do ‘cancel culture’?” he said.

Meloni is expected to receive a mandate from President Sergio Mattarella to form a government by the end of this week. As long as there is support for the coalition cabinet list, the government will be sworn in early next week.

Relations between Meloni and former three-time prime minister Berlusconi, 86, reached a rocky cliff last week after she vetoed his demands on the cabinet, but the couple called a truce during of a meeting on Monday.

Berlusconi said on Tuesday that Meloni had asked him to be his “adviser”, a role he accepted while recalling that it was he who founded the right-wing coalition.

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