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Italy calls early election in April

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080206/ap_on_re_eu/italy_politics Italy calls early election in April By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer 52 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080206/ap_on_re_eu/italy_politics

      Italy calls early election in April

      By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer 52
      minutes ago

      ROME - Italy's president dissolved parliament on
      Wednesday, clearing the way for early elections just
      two years after the last parliamentary vote.

      The Cabinet set the election date for April 13-14.

      President Giorgio Napolitano made the decision after
      Premier Romano Prodi's center-left government fell
      late last month and subsequent efforts to form an
      interim government to change voting rules failed.

      Prodi will continue as caretaker premier until the
      election.

      Italy was plunged into political crisis after Prodi's
      government collapsed Jan. 24 after only 20 months in
      power.

      The legislature was the second-shortest one in Italy's
      postwar history, according to Italian media.

      Early elections represent a victory for Silvio
      Berlusconi, the conservative leader who has repeatedly
      demanded a return to the polls since the fall of
      Prodi's government.

      Berlusconi has firmly rejected any possibility of an
      interim government. The 71-year-old former premier is
      hoping for a new stint in power as domestic opinion
      polls suggest his center-right coalition would win an
      early election.

      The center-left coalition trails in opinion polls. Its
      leader and expected candidate for premier, Walter
      Veltroni, had hoped to delay a vote by supporting the
      possibility of an interim government.

      Veltroni had been pushing for a change in the election
      law before any new parliament vote is held, saying the
      risk of instability is too high for whichever
      coalition wins the next election.

      The current law, a proportional-representation system,
      was passed in the last months of Berlusconi's 2001-06
      tenure but was later criticized even by its
      proponents. It is widely seen as giving too much power
      to small parties.

      Prodi had to resign after a small centrist party
      withdrew its support, causing the government to lose a
      confidence vote in the Senate, where the premier's
      forces had a minimal edge. Throughout his time in
      office, Prodi had to mediate between positions in a
      varied coalition that included several small parties.

      With his role as coalition leader taken by Veltroni,
      Prodi confirmed Wednesday that he would not seek a
      parliament seat.
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