- Title: ITALY: Election faces possible delay on technicality
- Date: 3rd April 2008
- Summary: LEADER OF PD PARTY, WALTER VELTRONI ON STREETS DURING ELECTION CAMPAIGNING
- Embargoed: 18th April 2008 13:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA7ZATUWLJT9HU8GMO3BEE3GXA9
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Italy's election due on April 13-14 faced a possible postponement on Wednesday (April 2) after a last-minute decision to let a small centrist party compete.
The April election, called after the Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition collapsed in January, is a contest between Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) and Veltroni's Democratic Party (PD), but on paper there are about a dozen candidates.
One tiny Christian Democratic party, a remnant of the former centrist party that dominated post-war Italy until the early 1990s, had been blocked from running for having a logo which was too similar to the larger Union of Christian Democrats (UDC).
But Interior Minister Giuliano Amato broke the torpor of one of Italy's dullest election campaigns in recent memory by saying a high court ruling on Tuesday that the small DC could now run, might delay the vote.
"Certainly it will cause a few organisational problems for everyone but it's not our fault, we were illegitimately excluded by the interior ministry commission and fortunately the council of state has said we are right, re-establishing justice", said DC leader Giuseppe Pizza delighted with the news.
An appeals court in the Rome region of Lazio has yet to rule on the the case and an even higher court may also be dragged in.
Berlusconi, who may risk seeing his lead diminished if the campaign is extended, asked the DC to stick to the schedule and urged the media to "allow them to make up for lost time".
Veltroni, the 52-year-old chasing 71-year-old Berlusconi's poll lead, has yet to comment on the situation.
A delay with the elections would cause further embarrassment to Italy internationally, a country already renowned for its unstable political system.
"Certainly the image of Italy abroad would be damaged by a decision like this," said political analyst Professor Franco Pavoncello.
"To have a postponement because of a re-admission of a political party would be rather surprising, I am not expecting that this decision to postpone will in the end will be taken," Pavoncello said.
And an election postponement could also be the last straw for Italians already fed up with a squabbling political class.
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