A too-close-to-call election in Italy

And we know what those too-close-to-call elections are like, don’t we? ;) Via the BBC:

Italy’s general election is turning into an extremely close race, with early results pointing to a slender lead for PM Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition may narrowly retain control of both houses of parliament, according to projections from the Nexus pollsters.

Earlier, exit polls pointed to a narrow lead for his centre-left challenger, Romano Prodi.

In Rome, Mr Prodi said he was still hopeful for victory.

Long wait

Polling stations closed at 1500 on Monday (1300 GMT). Mr Prodi told supporters at a late-night rally he could not understand why the result was taking so long.

The BBC’s Jonny Dymond in Rome says Mr Prodi will almost certainly be a disappointed man when the votes are finally totted up.

Mr Berlusconi appears to have kept hold of the Senate and is rivalling Mr Prodi’s share of votes in the chamber of deputies – although our correspondent says adds a definitive result is still unclear.

Rob at Say Anything offers up an analysis of what the re-election of Berlusconi (if that is what indeed happens) will mean on a global scale and asks “Are International Politics Moving Right?”

Read more via Pajamas Media (look about midway on the right side of the page for updated links on the Italian elections), Barcepundit, Rick Moran, In The Bullpen

Update I 12:29 AM ET: Uh oh! Talk about close! Check this out:

Italy’s centre-left opposition has won a narrow victory in the lower house of parliament, official results say.

It won 49.8% of the vote against 49.7% for the centre-right, according to interior ministry figures.

The head of the centre-left coalition, former Prime Minister Romano Prodi, told cheering supporters in Rome: “Victory has arrived.”

Not so fast, says a Prime Minister Berlusconi spokesman:

But the claim has been contested by the ruling centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

His spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti said his bloc would demand a “scrupulous” check of election ballots.

Via Reuters:

ROME (Reuters) – Center-left leader Romano Prodi claimed a knife-edge victory in Italy’s general election on Tuesday, but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s allies disputed the result and demanded a thorough review of the count.

Twelve hours after polling stations closed, Prodi declared that his coalition had secured a majority in both houses of parliament and promised to unify Italy after a highly divisive, acrimonious election campaign.

“We have won,” Prodi told flag-waving supporters who had waited until the early hours in a Rome square as the count ebbed and flowed in the closest election in modern Italian history.

Center-right politicians said the vote was still too close to call with up to half a million ballots reportedly spoilt and counting in the upper house Senate not yet complete.

“This is intolerable. What is this? A coup? It reminds me of South America. Auto proclamation (of victory) is constitutionally illegitimate,” said Industry Minister Claudio Scajola, a member of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy) party.

Rest assured that the feisty Berlusconi will not go down without a fight.