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Fascist Scumbaggi Berlusconi’s Fingers in Electoral Spaghetti
March 14, 2010, 4:20 pm
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Italy’s cabinet passes decree over election chaos

Reuters
Fri, Mar 5 2010

* Cabinet passes decree over election chaos

* Opposition says emergency legislation “unconstitutional”

(Adds cabinet decree, opposition comments, Berlusconi)

By Antonella Cinelli and Daniel Flynn

ROME, March 5 (Reuters) – Italy’s cabinet passed a decree on Friday aimed at reinstating candidates from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party stripped from ballots in two key regions due to irregularities in presenting their candidacies.

Opposition politicians said the legislation, approved by an emergency cabinet meeting late on Friday, was unconstitutional because it interfered with electoral law ahead of the March 28-29 regional polls.

However, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said the decree did not change electoral rules but aimed to ensure they were interpreted “in the correct way” by magistrates.

Courts in Lombardy, home to Italy’s industrial hub Milan, and Lazio, which houses its political capital Rome, are studying appeals by Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party to restore politicians stripped from the ballot.

“We thought it was necessary to give an authentic interpretation of the current law, without changing it, to allow the judges of the regional courts to apply it in the correct way,” Maroni told journalists after the cabinet meeting.

A government statement said the decree clarified rules concerning candidate lists and appeals against the decision of electoral authorities.

The regional polls in 13 of Italy’s 20 regions are seen as a test of national strength for Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition, rocked by a string of scandals over the last year. The decree has been sent to President Giorgio Napolitano for his approval and could become official as soon as Saturday.

Italian media said left-leaning Napolitano, who met with Berlusconi on Thursday, had opposed the 73-year-old media tycoon’s proposal to postpone the elections in the two regions.

Berlusconi said on Friday his cabinet would “give back the right to vote” to people in Lazio and Lombardy.

OPPOSITION CRIES FOUL

However, opposition leaders said on Friday the attempt to force the judges’ hand through legislation was unfair.

“This ‘interpretive’ decree is a trick,” said Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the main centre-left Democratic Party. “Those in power should think of the country, not about their list.”

Antonio di Pietro, a former anti-graft magistrate turned opposition leader, branded the decree as “unconstitutional” and said judges should be allowed to do their job.

This week courts rejected an appeal to reinstate Lombardy Governor Roberto Formigoni, a prominent member of Berlusconi’s alliance, who had been thrown off the regional ballot due to irregularities in signatures required to support his candidacy.

An appeals court in Rome also threw out a PDL bid to have its slate of candidates reinstated on the electoral ballot for Rome province after the party missed Saturday’s deadline for registration.

Corriere della Sera daily on Friday quoted Berlusconi as saying the pre-election procedural “mess-ups” had cost his coalition 3 percentage points in terms of voter support.

Nonetheless, his coalition is expected to perform strongly in the elections, as polls show the divided and scandal-plagued opposition has disapproval ratings of over 70 percent.

An opinion poll published last month showed Berlusconi’s own personal approval rating slipping to 46 percent after remaining at or above 50 percent for long periods. (Additional reporting by Gavin Jones; Writing by Daniel Flynn and Robin Pomeroy)

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