Hello! You are part of a community of millions who seek out Democracy Now! each month for ad-free daily news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for our in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power and lift up the voices of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We produce all of this news at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation. We do this without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How? This model of news depends on support from viewers and listeners like you. Today, less than 1% of our visitors support Democracy Now! with a donation each year. If even 3% of our website visitors donated just $10 per month, we could cover our basic operating expenses for a year. Pretty amazing right? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make a monthly contribution.

Your Donation: $
Wednesday, April 12, 2006 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Investigative Reporter Greg Palast: U.S. Energy Dept....
2006-04-12

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Refuses to Concede Defeat Despite Official Election Results

DONATE →
This is viewer supported news

In Italy, opposition leader Romano Prodi has been declared the official winner in the country’s elections, defeating Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in one of Italy’s closest races ever. Berlusconi is now refusing to admit he lost the race and is calling for a recount of thousands of disputed ballots. [includes rush transcript]

In Italy, opposition leader Romano Prodi has been declared the official winner in the country’s elections, defeating Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in one of Italy’s closest races ever.

According to the official count, Prodi’s coalition won 158 Senate seats to Berlusconi’s 156.

Berlusconi lost even though he holds tremendous control over what Italians see and hear. Besides being Italy’s sitting Prime Minister, the billionaire owns three of Italy’s national TV stations, the largest publishing house and the largest advertising agency. He also owns the AC Milan soccer team and is considered to be Italy’s wealthiest person.

Politically, Berlusconi has been a close ally of Bush and a supporter of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Berlusconi is now refusing to admit he lost the election to Romano Prodi. He is calling for a recount of thousands of disputed ballots. Berlusconi lost by just 25,000 votes making this the closest Italian race in living memory. Meanwhile, Prodi has announced plans to move ahead in forming a new government and has rejected Berlusconi’s call to form a German-style grand coalition.

  • Gilbert Achcar, professor at the University of Paris and a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique. He joins us on the line from Rome.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Gilbert, I know you’re in Italy now, and I want to talk about the two big stories. I’d like you to address Italy’s elections, as well. Opposition leader Romano Prodi has been declared the official winner, defeating Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in one of Italy’s closest races ever. According to the official count, Prodi’s coalition won 158 senate seats to Berlusconi’s 156. Berlusconi lost, even though he holds tremendous control over what Italians see and hear. Besides being Italy’s sitting prime minister, the billionaire owns three of Italy’s national TV stations, the largest publishing house, the largest advertising agency. He also owns the AC Milan soccer team and is considered to be Italy’s wealthiest individual. Politically, he’s been a close ally of President Bush and a supporter of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, now refusing to admit that he has lost the election to Romano Prodi.

SILVIO BERLUSCONI: We do not believe that today, as many things stand, someone can claim to have won, given the voting numbers which display many, many, many murky aspects. I would say too many.

AMY GOODMAN: Berlusconi is calling for a recount of thousands of disputed ballots. He lost by just 25,000 votes, making it the closest race in living memory. Meanwhile, Romano Prodi has announced plans to move ahead in forming a new government, has rejected Berlusconi’s call to form a German-style grand coalition.

ROMANO PRODI: The elections have shown we have the needed number of parliamentarians for the upper and lower houses. This allows us to govern as directed by the law, and we will govern all of Italy.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Prodi. Gilbert Achcar, though you’re a professor at the University of Paris, you are in Italy right now. Can you talk about the significance of what’s taking place there?

GILBERT ACHCAR: Well, first of all, Berlusconi has good reasons to reject the results and be such a bad loser, because he’s afraid for his own self as he faces the high possibility of being put on trial for various reasons, and he has already several trials. He’s been involved in so many financial scandals that for him one of the ways to avoid all of that was to stay in power.

But this being said, the situation here in Italy is quite — I would say the mood is quite bitter, because the leftwing opposition or the center-left, as it is more accurately called, was expecting a much larger, much bigger victory than what they got. And, a few weeks ago the polls were giving them as winning by a much wider margin than the one they actually got. So, in a sense, nobody is happy here around, politically speaking. Well, Berlusconi, because he lost, technically speaking, and although the margin is very, very reduced. As you said, 25,000 voters, quite nothing. I mean, this is a really very, very thin margin. And ,on the other hand, the left has not come out being enthusiastic with this kind of victory.

And the question is already: Why could Berlusconi win back this or make the margin narrower over the weeks? And, well, one of the reasons that many people will give here is the fact that he has not been faced by a clear-cut rejection of the kind of neo-liberal policies and even the imperialist policies, in the sense that I’m referring to Italy’s participation in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, but mainly Iraq. On both issues, Prodi, as a leader of the center-left coalition, has not given very clear signals. There were quite ambiguous signals on these two issues, and that could be one of the reasons for this kind of narrow margin, because the differences were not so clear politically at the level of the programs. What’s remained was the difference between the persons, the personalities, and, of course, Berlusconi was denounced as a corrupt politician, and Prodi built on his image as an honest kind of politician.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Gilbert Achcar, we’re going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you very much for joining us, a University of Paris professor speaking to us from Italy.

Show Full Transcript ›
‹ Hide Full Transcript

Recent Shows More

Full News Hour

Stories


Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.