Berlusconi questions ballots ahead of Italian vote

Other News Materials 6 April 2008 02:26 (UTC +04:00)

(iht) - Silvio Berlusconi, tipped by polls to win Italian general elections in just over a week, challenged the outgoing government on Saturday to overhaul ballots he said could confuse voters and jeopardise the vote.

But Interior Minister Giuliano Amato replied that it was too late to create new ballots, which he said were drawn up in accordance with a decree passed by Berlusconi's last centre-right government, which ended in 2006.

The appeal by Berlusconi is the latest sign that results from Italy's election on April 13-14 will be closely scrutinised by the 71-year-old media mogul and his allies, who have already sounded the alarm about potential irregularities in voting by Italians abroad.

In the 2006 election, which Berlusconi lost by the most narrow margin in modern Italian history, the conservative billionaire also challenged voting irregularities. He warned on Saturday of renewed concern this time, appealing to Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano to intervene.

"The electoral ballots ... do not offer any guarantee that the will of the voters will be respected and more easily can lead to an error," Berlusconi said, pointing to likely confusion when identifying party symbols.