Sunday, April 13, 2008

Electoral fraud in Italy

Italy goes to the polls today in elections which could see the return of Silvio Berlusconi for a third term as Prime Minister. Berlusconi is so confident that he has already claimed victory, saying that if he does not win it will be because of fraud (a claim he has made every time he has lost an election). But while there's definitely fraud, it isn't coming from the left:

The Italian elections have been hit by allegations of vote-rigging on the final day of the campaign.

Italian prosecutors said that 50,000 ballot papers among those sent out to Italians living overseas had been marked in favour Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom movement, and offered for sale to the party. Mr Berlusconi lost the last election, in 2006, by just 24,000 votes.

Voting in Italy begins today and continues tomorrow, with the 71-year-old Mr Berlusconi widely tipped to win the election and return for a third term as prime minister.

However, public prosecutors said that one of his innermost circle, Marcello Dell'Utri, had been overheard discussing the election with a bankrupt businessman, with alleged ties to Calabria's 'Ndrangheta mafia, said to have been behind the attempt to rig the vote. The votes involved were intercepted and will not be counted.

The Observer has more here. It looks like they caught this just in time. But it makes you wonder just how many times the mafia have gotten away with this in the past...