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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Berlusconi alleges election fraud
Silvio Berlusconi at polling station
Berlusconi says Forza Italia votes were cancelled
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has accused the left of fraud in June's elections.

Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia party suffered heavy losses in the 12-13 June European and local vote.

He has now claimed that some ballot papers marked in favour of his Forza Italia party were cancelled by officials.

"It's outrageous that ballots cast in our favour are regularly cancelled at all polling stations," the PM said.

The left accused him of desperation and delirium.

Mr Berlusconi said his relatively-new Forza Italia party included "a lot of naive people" who were easily taken in.

If a prime minister reaches this point, the best thing is to leave him alone in his delirium
Massimo D'Alema
Democrats of the Left
"They (the left) have an army of professionals who manage to make fools of the amateurs on our side, and put extra vote after vote into their count and fewer into ours," Mr Berlusconi said.

Forza Italia took 21% of the vote, down from 29% in the 2001 general election.

The left fared better, increasing its share of the vote to 31%, but other parties in Mr Berlusconi's right-wing coalition increased their share of the vote.

Former left-wing prime minister Massimo D'Alema said Berlusconi's comments were "a desperate gesture by somebody who is in trouble".

"If a prime minister reaches this point, the best thing is to leave him alone in his delirium," Mr D'Alema said.

Mr Berlusconi's comments were made at a political rally near Milan.

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