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Italy's Prime Minister Awaits Election Outcome


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is still not prepared to concede defeat in closely fought parliamentary elections. Official results have still not been made available. Contested ballots are still being counted but these will not affect the victory of center-left coalition leader Romano Prodi.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made another appeal to the center-left opposition to find an agreement and create a coalition government because the country is divided. Official results have still not been made available after Mr. Berlusconi alleged irregularities.

Contested ballots are being counted but the Interior Ministry Friday strongly reduced the number, making it clear that the victory of center-left coalition leader Romano Prodi was certain. But Mr. Berlusconi does not seem prepared to give up.

In a letter published Saturday in the daily Corriere della Sera, he said that on the basis of the popular vote there is no winner and no loser. He urged a partial agreement, limited in time and aimed at dealing with the country's more immediate institutional, economic and international commitments.

Romano Prodi, for his part, has said the match is over.

"The time has come for our victory to be acknowledged," he said. "The time has come for this strange comedy to be closed."

Prodi also wants Mr. Berlusconi to apologize for the fact he said there had been fraud. But he has said his bloc is prepared to talk to the center-right after Mr. Berlusconi concedes defeat.

Mr. Berlusocni does not appear to want to do that until the final tally of the elections is official.

"I am waiting with bated breath like half of Italy, and the other half as well, for these blessed results to come out," said Mr. Berlusocni. "For the moment there are no results, because the figures given by the Interior Ministry are provisional."

Most of Mr. Berlusconi's allies have distanced themselves from the charges of widespread irregularities and have shown no taste for a recount. Some members of the prime minister's center-right bloc have also said they are against the idea of a grand coalition between left and right.

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