Berlusconi: Overseas Italian voting riddled with 'many irregularities'

Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday that Italy's overseas vote was riddled with "many irregularities" and cannot be considered valid.

There were "many irregularities and it's possible that we won't be able to confirm that it has been a valid vote," he said. "We won't hesitate to recognize the political victory for our adversaries but only once the necessary legal verification procedures have been completed", reports AP.

According to Reuters, Center-left leader Romano Prodi claimed victory in Italy's election on Tuesday but his tiny margin raised fears of political paralysis and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's allies refused to concede defeat.

Prodi's alliance won narrowly in the lower house and Sky Italia TV projected that it would have a majority of one or two seats in the upper house Senate thanks to votes of Italians abroad that were still being counted.

"We can govern for five years," Prodi told reporters. "My government will be politically and technically strong."

However, Prodi's victory in the Senate was still not official more than 24 hours after polls closed.

Near-final returns today showed Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives holding a razor-thin lead in the Senate and Romano Prodi's centre-left winning the lower house by the smallest of margins.

The Senate and lower chamber of parliament have equal powers, and any coalition would have to control both in order to form a government. Some centre-left and centre-right leaders have said that if neither side controls both houses, new elections should be called.

A victory claim by Mr Prodi was immediately contested by Mr Berlusconi's forces. "We have won, and now we have to start working to implement our programme and unify the country," a jubilant Mr Prodi said.

However, Mr Berlusconi's spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, contested Mr Prodi's victory claim, informs Scotsman.


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