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Berlusconi Calls for Recount After Refusing to Concede Defeat

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party refused to concede defeat in Italy’s election and called for a recount of the vote.

Berlusconi and his allies trailed the Democratic Party-led coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani by less than half a percentage point, a margin of fewer than 150,000 votes, with more more than 1 million votes still to be counted at 12:45 a.m.

The returns “are calculated from empirical methods that are inevitably subject to a margin of error,” PDL Secretary General Angelino Alfano said at a press conference in Rome. “Even if the margin is contained, it will certainly be more than the difference in votes, which is minimal, between the two coalitions in the Chamber.”

Under Italian election rules that award a bonus premium to the winner of the Chamber, Bersani would gain an absolute majority in the lower house if his lead holds up. In the Senate, where the bonus seats are doled out regionally, neither coalition is in a position to gain a majority.

The Democratic Party claimed victory in the Chamber and called on People of Liberty to concede.

“We invite Alfano to not exacerbate the climate by denying reality,” Nicola Stumpo, the PD’s chief of staff, said in an e-mailed statement. “The center-left obtained the most votes in both the Chamber and Senate. The center-right has to acknowledge that: this is the reality.”

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