WORLD / Europe

Italy's top court confirms Prodi win
Updated: 2006-04-20 07:36

ROME - Italy's supreme court on Wednesday confirmed Romano Prodi's narrow victory in last week's general election, dismissing accusations by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of widespread voting irregularities.

Italy's top court confirms Prodi win By Silvia Aloisi
Italy's centre-left coalition leader Romano Prodi flashes a victory sign as he speaks to journalists in Rome April 19, 2006. [Reuters]
The ruling ended days of political stalemate and cleared the way for Prodi to start work on forming a government, which is unlikely to take office before the second half of May because of a constitutional logjam.

"Finally this electoral story is over," Prodi said. "After the court ruling, Italians have no further doubts about our victory. Now we are working for a strong government and to resolve the problems of Italian society."

However, Berlusconi's Forza Italia party still refused to concede defeat, saying other aspects of the closest Italian election in modern history still needed clarifying.

"We need additional checks," said Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, a senior Forza Italia politician. He did not elaborate but any further checks would almost certainly fail to prevent Prodi taking office.

But not all Berlusconi's partners wanted to prolong the post-election battle, with the centrist UDC party immediately conceding defeat. The Northern League later acknowledged Prodi's victory but said it was "pyrrhic" because the slim majority could make it difficult for the center left to govern.

Berlusconi has accused his opponents of rigging the election and insisted the official result be overturned because of flawed counting procedures and problems with overseas votes.

After a week of checks across Italy, the supreme court said in a statement Prodi won the election in the lower house by 24,755 votes. Provisional results last week said the winning margin was a slightly higher 25,224 votes.


Despite the tight victory, Prodi's coalition will have almost 70 more seats than the center right in the 630-seat lower chamber, thanks to new rules introduced by Berlusconi last year.
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