The center-right coalition of Premier Silvio Berlusconi refused
to concede defeat on Tuesday in Italy's knife-edge election,
demanding checks on spoilt voting slips and even a possible
Earlier in the day, center left opposition chief Romano Prodi
claimed victory in the Sunday and Monday vote after the tally
showed his coalition had squeaked past the center right.
But Sandro Bondi, coordinator for Berlusconi's Forza Italia
party, told reporters that "Prodi hasn't won a blessed thing. The
fact that he has declared himself the winner shows that he is a
politician without any institutional sense."
In the Lower House, the center left won 49.8 percent compared to
the center right's 49.73 percent, a margin of just some 25,000
The center right initially appeared to have won the Senate but
the addition this morning of results from the votes cast by
Italians resident abroad swung the chamber marginally in Prodi's
favor, leading the former European Commission chief to declare
But the Interior Ministry stressed in a statement that the
election figures were still "provisional and not official".
Given the narrowness of the vote, center-right politicians
demanded that the disputed ballots be re-examined while others
called for a total recount.
The Interior Ministry stressed that it was up to the Supreme
Court to declare the election outcome and that it could not be
officially called until the court had done so.
Forza Italia heavyweight Renato Schifani said that "we know that
we have not lost these elections politically. We won with more than
300-350,000 votes in the Senate and lost by some 23,000 in the
Lower House with 45,000 disputed slips and many more voided because
"With regard to the final outcome, I think it would be wise to
wait for the Supreme Court and the normal checking procedures that
are being carried out by the electoral authorities," he said.
"Prodi should acknowledge that Berlusconi has not lost and that
half of the country backs the premier," he added.
Italian Agriculture Minister Giovanni Alemanno said that "in
cases like this, I think a recount is indispensable because with a
margin of 0.01 percent, not repeating the count would be unfair to
If the center right succeeds in obtaining a recount, it could
take several weeks before an official result is given.
Berlusconi spent the morning out of sight, huddled away in
consultation with his coalition allies.
A source close to his House of Liberties coalition said the
summit focused on a possible recount, contested slips and checks to
ensure that vote data had been correctly transmitted.
"They are not talking about fraud of course, just the usual
verification of normal errors that might have taken place during
the voting," the source said.
Meanwhile, Prodi said he was waiting for a phone call from
Berlusconi conceding defeat.
When asked by reporters about the center right's call for a
recount and the examination of disputed slips, Prodi said that "if
the House of Liberties wants to contest the outcome then it may do
so. We're not worried."
(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2006)