Prodi claims victory in Italian election; Berlusconi refuses to concede

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 Italian opposition leader Romano Prodi, leader of the center-left coalition L'Unione (Lit. "The Union"), was declared the victor today in parliamentary elections held Sunday and Monday, but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has yet to concede his office.

Official but not yet confirmed results indicate that L'Unione won control of the lower house or Chamber of Deputies with 49.8% of the vote to 49.7% for Berlusconi's center-right Casa delle Libertà (Lit. "The House of Freedoms") coalition. The winning party automatically receives a minimum of 55% of the seats in the lower house, giving Prodi at least 340 seats in the 630-seat Chamber.

Berlusconi, however, claims that his party would control the 315-seat Senate by one vote, resulting in a split parliament. The current results, however, show Prodi with a 158-156 lead in the Senate, giving him enough seats of support in both houses. Berlusconi's spokesman also indicated that his party has requested a recount.

Italian law requires that the prime minister receive the support of both houses of Parliament. Should the two houses be controlled by different coalitions, the stalemate would result in new elections. A caretaker government would rule in the meantime.