Artorius Castus

Berlusconi declares election win

Posted in Uncategorized by Patrick Truax on April 15, 2008

Centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi warned of “difficult months ahead” as he declared a decisive victory in Italy’s general election.

The 71-one-year-old media mogul said he was willing to work with the opposition to pass much needed economic reforms.

Mr Berlusconi spoke soon after rival Walter Veltroni admitted defeat.

The results return Mr Berlusconi for a third term in office as Italian prime minister. His new government will be Italy’s 62nd since World War II.

The vote was held three years ahead of schedule after the collapse of Romano Prodi’s centre-left coalition.

‘Affectionate kiss’

With most results counted, the interior ministry said Mr Berlusconi’s centre-right had taken 47% in the Senate, compared to 38% for the centre-left.

Official results showed the tycoon’s coalition had won 46.5% of the vote in the lower house Chamber of Deputies, while the centre-left was trailing on nearly 38%.

Centre-right bloc 46.5%;
Centre-left bloc 37.8%
Centre-right bloc 47.2%;
Centre-left bloc 38.1%Interior ministry figures

But while his supporters celebrated, the streets of Rome were relatively quiet on Monday night, says the BBC’s Jonny Dymond in the Italian capital.

Few people have much faith in the politicians’ ability to change things for the better, our correspondent says, and the mood of many going into this election had been gloomy.

Tricky coalition talks are expected in the coming days. In a telephone call to Rai TV, Mr Berlusconi said his slimmed-down cabinet would have 12 ministers, including four women.

In his interview, Mr Berlusconi said he was moved by the faith that so many citizens had placed in him.

“We have difficult months ahead that will require great strength,” he said.

Before ringing off, he added: “An affectionate kiss to all Italians.”

Massive debt

Mr Berlusconi said his immediate priorities would be the sale of the loss-making national airline Alitalia and the crisis caused by uncollected mountains of rubbish in Naples.

The next government also faces the task of reviving Italy’s ailing economy, with zero growth forecast for the coming year.

The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says the winner could find he has been passed a poisoned chalice, perhaps explaining why neither leader seemed very keen to win this lacklustre campaign. Although Italy is saddled with a massive public debt, both leading candidates had promised tax cuts and handouts to voters.

Italy’s economy has been suffering from low productivity and a strong euro, and analysts say young people, pensioners and low-income workers are feeling the pressure.

Some 158 different parties contested the regional and national polls, including Mr Berlusconi’s new conservative People of Freedom (PDL) and Mr Veltroni’s recently formed Democratic Party (PD).

At the start of the campaign, opinion polls gave Mr Berlusconi’s bloc a commanding lead, but it had narrowed as the election drew near.

At 80%, the final turnout appears to have been lower than in the last election, two years ago.

Mr Berlusconi has served two terms as prime minister, last resigning in May 2006.

One of Italy’s richest men, he is the head of a business empire that spans media, advertising, insurance, food and construction and includes the top flight football club AC Milan.

Mr Veltroni is a former communist who served for seven years as mayor of Rome before taking over the leadership of the centre-left coalition led by Mr Prodi after his government collapsed in January.

Walter Veltroni


One Response

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  1. Patrick Truax said, on April 15, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Good news. Silvio was very pro-America. He has his work cut out for him. Forza Italia!!

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