Berlusconi Concedes as He Weighs Alliance

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi acknowledged rival Pier Luigi Bersani’s narrow victory in the lower house of Parliament and said he’s open to a broad alliance to avoid a second election.

“Everyone needs to think what good can be done for Italy and this will take some time,” Berlusconi said in an interview with Canale 5, a station owned by his Mediaset SpA broadcaster. The country can’t be left without a government, he said.

Democratic Party leader Bersani, the pre-election favorite, won the lower house by less than a half a percentage point. Resurgent three-time ex-premier Berlusconi won a blocking minority in the Senate, making the elections inconclusive. Italian bonds and stocks tumbled as the election triggered renewed market concerns over Europe’s debt crisis.

Bersani and Berlusconi may seek to avoid a new ballot that would favor populist Beppe Grillo, whose movement was the top vote-getter in its first national contest. Berlusconi acknowledged Bersani’s victory in the lower house and said People of Liberty leader Angelino Alfano “did the right thing” in initially seeking a recount, adding that he doesn’t suspect any vote-rigging. No recount has been formally requested, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said.

No Monti

“We need to see on what points we can agree with the other coalitions,” Berlusconi said. A second vote wouldn’t be useful, he said. The media magnate said he doesn’t think an alliance with outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti is possible. Aides to Bersani claimed victory and said he should get a chance to form a government. No formal steps can be taken until a new parliament convenes March 15.

Grillo ruled out alliances and has said he wants to destroy the established parties, not work with them. He said he would relish another vote.

“They can’t hold us back any longer,” Grillo said late yesterday in a video posted to his website. “They might go on another seven or eight months and produce a disaster, but we will be watching and working to keep it under control.”

Bersani’s coalition polled 29.5 percent in the lower house, or Chamber of Deputies, compared with 29.2 percent for Berlusconi’s group, according to final figures from the Interior Ministry. That gave Bersani a majority of 340 seats out of a total of 630 deputies because of a bonus premium for the party with the most votes.

Grillo’s gains resulted in a deadlocked Senate, where seats are distributed on a regional basis. Bersani won 121 Senate seats and Berlusconi 117, according to Interior Ministry figures. A party would need 158 seats in to have a majority.

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