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Fewer ballots in dispute as Italian election results indicate Prodi victory

[JURIST] The victory of former Prime Minister Romano Prodi [campaign website, in Italian] over incumbent Silvio Berlusconi [official profile, JURIST news archive] in the disputed April 9-10 parliamentary elections [JURIST report] seemed confirmed Friday after reports that the number of disputed ballots in the election for the lower house of the Italian parliament - originally estimated at 43,000 by the Interior Ministry [official website] - may be as few as 2,000. Judges began examining the problematic ballots Thursday, and Prodi said Friday that their investigation was not leading to any changes in results [AP report]. Official figures will be released next week, but Prodi's center-left coalition is projected to have won the lower house by around 24,000 votes of 38 million cast in the narrowest election in Italian history. Berlusconi, who has served as prime minister since 2001, has suggested that the center-left and right form a coalition due to the closeness of the election; Prodi's Olive Tree alliance has rejected the offer.

Berlusconi's regime has been marked by scandal, with an indictment for corruption [JURIST report] last month and charges of false accounting [JURIST report] and bribery [JURIST report] last year in connection with the media business that his family owns. Berlusconi has always maintained his innocence, claiming that the charges are politically motivated. Reuters has more.

2:54 PM ET - According to the Interior Ministry, the number of disputed ballots that are being reviewed by judges is only 5,266. The Financial Times has more.

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