A climbdown by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been welcomed by his opposition centre-left rival Romano Prodi. Berlusconi decided not to hold a solo eve-of-election press conference, an event that had threatened to derail two televised debates between the two men.
“I’ve passed up the opportunity of a final press conference, now I’d like to see if Prodi will continue running scared,” he said. Prodi welcomed the news and said the live debates could now go ahead. “It was clear that it was a storm in a teacup, and now I feel that everything is back on course,” he countered. Meanwhile, one of Italy’s biggest daily papers has nailed its colours to the mast. Five weeks ahead of the election, the Milan-based Corriere Della Sera has whipped up a political storm by coming out in support of Prodi’s centre-left alliance. The paper has traditionally been regarded as independent.