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Italian PM Refuses to Concede Defeat in Elections
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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refused to concede defeat Friday despite Interior Ministry saying that the number of disputed election ballots would not be enough to overturn the victory of center-left leader Romano Prodi.

Italian Interior Ministry confirmed that the number of disputed ballots was only around 5,000, far fewer than originally believed.

It said the number of contested ballots had been reduced from 43,028 to 2,131 for the House and 39,822 to 3,135 for the Senate.

But the ministry added that the election figures were "still provisional" and that the electoral authorities responsible for examining the disputed ballots had yet to provide their "definitive decisions".

Prodi, who has been congratulated by various heads of government including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said after learning of the ministry figures that "our victory is confirmed".

Berlusconi refused to comment but later told a group of supporters in Rome that "We will resist".

In a letter to Corriere della Sera, Italy's biggest daily, Berlusconi said "Which ever way the official counts of the election result go and whoever receives the substantial seat bonus in the House, nothing changes: we are dealing with a stalemate and a situation in which, at least on the basis of the popular vote, there are neither winners or losers."

He said it was necessary to "study new solutions together", adding that "a partial, short-term pact in order to deal with the country's immediate institutional, economic and international commitments should not be excluded".

(Xinhua News Agency April 15, 2006)

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