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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Italian opposition in flap over flag
Spot the difference: The "new" flag is flying in Rome...

Italian opposition leaders have accused Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of tinkering with the national flag, after subtle changes in its colour were introduced.

One accused him of a "chromatic coup d'etat".

The row began when observers spotted that a new Italian flag flying outside Mr Berlusconi's Rome office was subtly different from its predecessors.

The green, they claim, is deeper, the red has taken on ruby hues, and the white has turned to ivory.

Traditional Italian flag colours - from Flags of the World website
... in subtly different shades from the old version

Last September the Italian Government set up a team to work out exactly what shades of the three colours should be used on Italian flags.

Mr Berlusconi's office, it is thought, may be the first to demonstrate the results.

But his political opponents are furious.

"It's a veritable chromatic coup d'etat," said Green Party president Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio. The party is so angry it wants a national referendum to allow the public to choose the right shades.

Passers-by did not share the sense of outrage.

"I don't mind - it looks like my flag," said one man. "It's not ugly even if the red is a little darker."

Opposition attacked

Mr Berlusconi's office accuses his opponents of using the issue to attack the prime minister.

The left was carrying out an unjustified attack when it should be more concerned with national interests, said Mr Berlusconi's spokesman.

The Italian flag is not the only one to have been causing controversy.

In the newly-formed state of Serbia and Montenegro, the two republics have been rowing about how to reflect both their national tricolours in the new red, white and blue flag. Serbia has traditionally used dark blue, Montenegro light blue.




SEE ALSO:
Ex-Yugoslavs row over flag
21 Apr 03  |  Europe


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