Berlusconi's allies say ballot review must eliminate all doubts over election outcome

Allies of Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday that Italy's highest court must be sure its review of contested ballots eliminates any doubts about the outcome of the nation's parliamentary election.

Berlusconi, who has led Italy for five years, has refused to concede defeat to center-left challenger Romano Prodi, a former premier who won a razor-thin majority in the April 9-10 election, according to the Interior Ministry's final count.

A few thousand contested ballots are under review by the court. Its findings, to be announced in the next few days, are expected to confirm Prodi's victory since the number of disputed ballots is too small to change the overall result.

Prodi, a former premier and European Union chief, has said he is already at work on putting together a Cabinet.

In a statement Tuesday, Berlusconi's center-right coalition contended that in the rush to get information to the court for the ballot review, lower courts may have made errors. A leader of the premier's party warned of unspecified legal action if doubts over the ballots remain, reports AP.

According to Mediafax, Italian politicians continued to spar over election results and their consequences Monday, with final results of the vote still not in and criticism that Romano Prodi''s center-left coalition would not have the parliamentary majority needed to govern efficiently ABC News reports.

The bickering centered around Italy''s weak economy and the decision by conservative Premier Silvio Berlusconi not to concede defeat despite Prodi''s near-certain victory. The premier''s conservatives repeated that the election was too close to call and magistrates continued to examine contested ballots.

O.Ch.