Our victory is safe’

By Alessandra Rizzo The Associated Press

ROME – Italy’s center-left leader Romano Prodi said yesterday he doesn’t fear a reversal of parliamentary election results, insisting his narrow victory is safe despite Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s demand for a recount.

Prodi emerged the winner of the hard-fought election, although his razor-thin margin has brought back the prospect of political instability in a country known for revolving-door governments. Berlusconi has refused to concede defeat, alleging voting irregularities.

“I do not fear a reversal of the results,” Prodi said in comments to the Foreign Press Association, a day after official results by the Interior Ministry gave him the win.

“Our victory is safe,” he said. “There’s the possibility of governing for five years.”

Prodi said he had begun talks on selecting a Cabinet, meeting with coalition parties earlier yesterday. He did not give say when the government might be assembled but played down the uncertainty caused by Berlusconi’s demands.

“I do not know what he’s talking about,” said Prodi. “Since he controls everything, he doesn’t trust himself.”

In Italy, it usually takes a few weeks to exhaust the procedures necessary for forming a government. In this case, the matter is further complicated because the mandate of the president of the republic, who must give the nod to a new premier, expires in mid-May.