- Title: ITALY: Berlusconi claims victory in election
- Date: 15th April 2008
- Summary: (W4) ROME, ITALY (RECENT - APRIL 10, 2008) (REUTERS) CROWDS WITH FLAGS GATHERED FOR THE CENTRE-RIGHT LEADER SILVIO BERLUSCONI'S FINAL RALLY BERLUSCONI ADDRESSING THE CROWD
- Embargoed: 30th April 2008 13:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADEKKVSY7CHDHPF5AHDBHYKU0W
- Story Text: Silvio Berlusconi's clear election win gives the conservative leader a third chance and a strong mandate to lift Italy's ailing economy, but he faces a daunting task.
Silvio Berlusconi's clear election win on Monday (April 14) gives the conservative leader a third chance and a strong mandate to lift Italy's ailing economy, but he faces a daunting task.
Centre-left rival Walter Veltroni conceded defeat after early results from a two-day election projected a big majority in both houses of parliament for the 71-year-old media magnate.
Berlusconi, who has vowed to cut taxes and rein in Italy's huge debt, had been widely expected to win the lower house. But a strong Senate majority would help him push through structural reforms needed to pull Italy away from the brink of recession.
Berlusconi did not appear in public after the end of voting, but in a phone interview with Italian current affairs TV show 'Porta a Porta' he said, he was prepared for another 5 years.
"I'm really emotional about this electoral result and for the confidence which so many Italian citizens have shown in me and I would like to thank them with all my heart. I feel a great responsibility because the years and months to come will be difficult but I will try with all my strength and using all my experience for the next 5 years to do the best as these years will be decisive for our country," he said.
His spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, called his win a victory for Italy.
"I believe that it is the Italians who won this election because they asked for a change and they have this change after the disaster provoked by the leftist government of Mr Prodi," Bonaiuti said.
But many Italians are deeply disillusioned with politics and doubt Berlusconi can cure the ills of the European's Union's fourth-largest economy.
"I am really upset , really a lot because in the hands of Berlusconi this country is going to be destroyed even more than it is already.
One cannot live governed by lies and people not thinking about everybody else," one voter, Veltroni supporter said.
Many Italians went to the polls to elect their 62nd government since World War Two gloomy about chronic political instability and an economy that has long lagged behind its main partners in the EU.
Public morale has been undermined by everything from a garbage crisis in Naples and failed rescue bid for loss-making airline Alitalia to a mozzarella food scare.
Economic growth is expected by the International Monetary Fund to slow to 0.3 percent this year and Italy's debt is the third highest in the world.
Berlusconi dominates Italian media through his business empire, Mediaset, Italy's largest private broadcaster, and is rated the country's third richest man by Forbes magazine.
He has pledged to slash the debt, cut taxes and liberalise the economy as well as getting tough on crime. But critics say he failed to carry out pledges to revolutionise Italy when prime minister for seven months from April 1994 and from 2001-2006.
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