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Italy's Prodi Says He Is Confident of Election Victory


Italy's center-left leader Romano Prodi says he has no fear of a reversal of the vote count in parliamentary elections. He again ruled out a German-style grand coalition of left and right political parties.

Romano Prodi said he has no reason to believe that the parliamentary election result will be overturned. The leader of Italy's center-left coalition says it was a clean victory. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has refused to concede defeat and insists that some votes must be recounted. Prodi says he does not understand why Mr. Berlusconi is protesting.

"I don't know what Berlusconi is talking about," said Prodi. "He was in control of everything in these elections."

Prodi said it is a curious situation because the prime minister controlled the transmission of the numbers and all the technical apparatus. Prodi said Mr. Berlusconi does not trust himself and is suffering a kind of identity crisis.

Mr. Berlusconi has said there are many irregularities, particularly in the vote count from Italians living abroad.

The election results must still be confirmed by Italy's high court. Prodi claimed victory early Tuesday morning while the vote counting was still under way. He has a comfortable majority in the lower house of parliament despite winning with a narrow popular vote margin.

Speaking to journalists at the Foreign Press Club in Rome, Prodi again ruled out the possibility of a "grand coalition" of right and left. Mr. Berlusconi had floated the idea on Tuesday. But Prodi said it would not be necessary since he had the majority in both houses.

"A grand coalition is not only incompatible with our program, it happens when no majority emerges from the elections," he said. "In this case we have a majority."

The leader of the center-left coalition also said his government will pass a new conflict of interest law. He said the aim of the law is not to punish Mr. Berlusconi, who had been accused of backing policies benefiting his business interests, but to deal with a problem facing other democracies as well.

Prodi said he had already received various calls congratulating him on his election victory. He also said he was unlikely to take office before May and after a new head of state has been appointed at the end of President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi's term.

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