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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 21:50 GMT
Mussolini wins appeal on vote ban
Alessandra Mussolini
Alessandra Mussolini said the ruling was a victory for transparency
The grand-daughter of Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini will be able to run in local elections, Italy's top administrative court has ruled.

Alessandra Mussolini had appealed to the court to overturn a ban imposed after it was alleged signatures backing her far-right candidacy were fake.

Her Alternativa Sociale party will now stand in polls for the Lazio region.

Incumbent regional president Francesco Storace may lose his seat if her party takes votes from him, analysts say.

Hunger strike

Mr Storace is a member of the rightwing National Alliance, to which Ms Mussolini belonged before falling out with party leader Gianfranco Fini after he openly distanced himself from Italy's fascist past.

Her Alternativa Sociale party had collected 3,500 signatures to be able to stand against Mr Storace in the central Lazio region, which includes Rome.

Across Italy, some 40 million people are eligible to vote in the elections for regional presidents, taking place on 3 and 4 April.

A court first banned Ms Mussolini's party from running after it ruled hundreds of the signatures were doubtful. That ban was then upheld by a court of appeal last Monday.

Ms Mussolini, who went on a hunger strike limiting her to three cappuccinos a day in protest, celebrated the council of state's decision to overturn the ban on Tuesday.

Voter 'manipulators'

"It's the victory of transparency, pluralism and democracy over a dark procedure," she told reporters at her home in Rome.

"For me, we have won. Now, it's for the citizens to decide."

Ms Mussolini had earlier alleged Mr Storace sparked the investigation that led to the first court ruling excluding her from the ballot.

But Mr Storace said Tuesday's ruling showed there was no "regime" in place acting against Ms Mussolini, according to the Ansa news agency.

"With our heads high we call on the people of the region to pronounce themselves against the manipulators of the voter lists," he is quoted as saying.

Analysts believe Ms Mussolini could take 2-3% of the vote from Mr Storace, putting his otherwise probable re-election at risk.

Mussolini loses vote ban appeal
18 Mar 05 |  Europe

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