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Italy at the polls

2 days of voting, the results could hamper one of Israel’s strong allies

I’m watching news on the polls in Italy, the campaign has been called quite nasty and the race has been tight. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been an outspoken advocate and supporter of Israel. With Hamas, and other regional terrorism issues looming large it would be sad to see this ally ousted, as happened in Spain after the vicious Madrid bombing attacks.

Silvio has been a particularly strong advocate for increased Israel NATO relations, and the possible inclusion of Israel in the alliance, his more left leaning adversary Romano Prodi is also a fair supporter of Israel, but his party and coalition composed of many socialistic entities, some openly pro communists and generally weaker on defense issues is most certainly not. Romano Prodi a previous PM from the 90′s also led the EU Commission most recently, his stance was nowhere near as supportive as Silvio’s.

Italy’s main issue today is economics, the country has been one of the worst performers economically in the EU unfortunately. The situation, very similar to Israel’s before the deep reforms undertaken over the last few years in the Holy Land, near zero growth and drowning in red tape.

Here’s a light look at the tight race courtesy of the Canadian press.

Update April 10th:

With the second day of polls closing, EARLY exit polls in the media showed the left leaning Prodi had won both the lower & upper houses.. and this was being eaten up. But now reports show the election too close to call, do I sense a pattern here in the media? Why is that in election after election that is very close, the media quickly jumps out excitedly with a baited winner being the left leaner every time, and then we start getting the reports that the early exhuberance was mistaken!?

MSNBC via the AP: ROME – Exit polls indicated Monday that the Italian parliamentary election pitting center-left economist Romano Prodi against flamboyant billionaire Premier Silvio Berlusconi was too close to call.

Projections showed Berlusconi’s coalition leading in the Senate, but the two sides running neck-and-neck in the lower Chamber of Deputies.

Based on 86 percent of pollster Nexus’ sampling, Berlusconi’s alliance won 157 Senate seats, compared with Prodi’s 152. The margin of error for the sample was between 1 and 3 percentage points

Some of the headlines from earlier today..
Prodi heads for general election victory in Italy at Financial Times - Apr 10, 2006
First polls point to the end of Berlusconi at The London Times - Apr 10, 2006
Italy’s Prodi set to win election: exit polls Reuters - Apr 10, 2006

Contrasted with headlines now, same day just a few hours later..
Italy braces for election result at BBC – Mon, Apr 10, 2006
Italian Election Remains Too Close to Call AP – 9 minutes ago
Italian general election hangs by a thread Reuters – 24 minutes ago
Berlusconi may cling on: projections AFP – 2 hours, 18 minutes ago

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