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Italians Vote Conservative

Posted April. 16, 2008 03:26,   


Billionaire media mogul turned-prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, won the Italian general election that took place over two days on Sunday and Monday, reported international news agencies including the Associated Press and AFP.

Pledging a better economy, his center-right coalition won a lopsided victory over its center-left rival led by former Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni, who promised change. Now, the conservative coalition will dominate both houses of the legislature. Berlusconi will take office as prime minister for the third time, a new record in Italy.

According to the final official tally by the Italian Interior Ministry, Berlusconi’s moderate conservative coalition won 47.3 percent of the votes, winning 168 senate seats or a 10-seat majority. The coalition also won the lower house with 46.8 percent approval, to total 340 seats. Its liberal rival won 38 percent and 37.5 percent of the senate and the lower house, or 130 and 239 seats, respectively.

Portraying the general sentiment of the Italian voters, Reuters quoted JPMorgan economist Silvia Pepino as saying, “Berlusconi’s victory means we will have at least some form of government. We will surely have a better economy as an idling parliament no longer exists.”

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s liberal government took office in May 2006 with a meager 1 to 2-seat majority over the conservatives in the senate. But the coalition collapsed in January of this year, ending a 20-month long political vacuum.

Former Prime Minister Berlusconi, 71, first became head of the Italian state by winning the 1994 general election as leader of the Alliance for Freedom. The anti-immigration Northern League of Umberto Bossi later broke away, dismantling the coalition. In addition, a series of corruption scandals pushed Berlusconi out of office at an early point in his tenure.

He then lost the 1996 election to the liberal coalition led by Prodi. Berlusconi, however, later made a comeback, beating Prodi in the 2001 election.

He remained in office until the April 2006 election, making him the only Italian prime minister to ever fully serve out his term.

Prodi fought back in 2006, but Berlusconi has again won thanks to the collapse of the liberal coalition.