Romano Prodi is insisting that the race to become Italian premier is over but there is one big obstacle in the way. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whom he beat in the general election according to official results, is still demanding a massive recount. Centre-left leaders have accused Berlusconi of stoking dangerous political tensions. Prodi said: “He (Berlusconi) is unable to lose, to admit that we won. He will never do (it). He is absolutely unable to admit the truth. He did so ten years ago, he is doing the same now.”
Yesterday Berlusconi, who lost to Prodi in the 1996 election, spoke of “fraud”. However, his centre-right coalition allies have distanced themselves from the comments that made today’s newspaper headlines.Routine checks on the 43,000 disputed ballots are expected to be completed by tomorrow. But the outgoing premier has demanded more. “We need to check the voting registers from 60 thousand bureaux, but it seems there have been widespread irregularities,” said Berlusconi on Wednesday. He was speaking after meeting President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who reportedly refused to grant the necessary permission for a wider recount. Interior Ministry data said the centre-left took the lower house of parliament by just 25,000 votes.