Tags: Conservative | Berlusconi | Wins | Italy

Conservative Berlusconi Wins in Italy

Monday, 14 May 2001 12:00 AM

The interior ministry said Berlusconi's Forza Italia movement secured 163 seats in the 315-seat Senate, with 35 seats still to be counted. In the 630-seat lower house, preliminary results gave the bloc 245; the center-left coalition got 158.

Center-left candidate Francesco Rutelli, the head of the governing center-left Olive Tree coalition and Rome mayor, conceded after it enmerged that Berlusconi had won.

Official results were in late because an exceptionally high turnout of more than 81 percent in Sunday's election forced the authorities to keep polling stations open for several hours after the official closing time of 10 p.m. There were angry scenes in some towns where voters had to wait for hours to vote. In Calabria, southern Italy, the polls closed at 4 a.m. Monday.

Early returns showed Berlusconi's Forza Italia increasing its share of the vote from 20.6 percent in 1996, when Berlusconi was prime minister for seven months, to 29 percent, ANSA reported. By contrast, Berlusconi's leading coalition partner, Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance) appeared to have lost ground. The former neo-Fascist MSI went from 15.7 percent in the last national election to 13 percent. The other partner in the center-right coalition, the Lega Nord (Northern League) led by Umberto Bossi, suffered a major setback, dropping below 4 percent from its 10 percent high of five years ago.

With Berlusconi owning the main independent television stations, and the government having use of three state-run channels voters were subjected to an intense barrage of campaign publicity.

Berlusconi emerged as the apparent winner despite claims from his opponents that his election would raise serious conflicts of interest - his victory would give the media owner virtually complete control over the country's television - and criticism from some left-wing European politicians nervous about the resurgence of conservatives in Italy.

Observers said the governing center-left coalition combining remnants of the old Christian Democrats and the once-formidable Italian Communist Party was defeated partly because the successors of the communists lost ground, but also because after five years of lackluster center-left government Italians were ready for a change.

Both coalitions said they were committed to the European Union and to NATO; both promised tax cuts, and to give priority to job creation.

Berlusconi was favored by Italian business, but both groups had said they would attempt to boost the country's economy, particularly in the underdeveloped south.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The interior ministry said Berlusconi's Forza Italia movement secured 163 seats in the 315-seat Senate, with 35 seats still to be counted. In the 630-seat lower house, preliminary results gave the bloc 245; the center-left coalition got 158. Center-left candidate Francesco...
Conservative,Berlusconi,Wins,Italy
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2001-00-14
Monday, 14 May 2001 12:00 AM
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