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The BBC's David Willey in Rome
"It was a slap in the face for Massimo D'Alema"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 April, 2000, 21:53 GMT 22:53 UK
Italy thrown into political crisis
election posters
The ruling parties lost ground in the regional elections
The Italian president has rejected Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema's offer to resign after his ruling coalition performed badly in regional elections.

President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi instead told Mr D'Alema to seek a vote of confidence in parliament. It was not clear if it would take place before Easter.


Massimo D'Alema
Massimo D'Alema: Mistake to dissolve government
The prime minister's Democrats of the Left party and its coalition partners - including moderate communists, Greens, Democrats and centrists - lost two of their nine regions in Sunday's poll.

Mr D'Alema resigned last December after two small parties withdrew from his 14-month-old coalition.

Four days later, he was sworn in as head of a new alliance, Italy's 57th government since World War II.

Legitimacy

Italians are due to vote in a month's time in a referendum on whether to adopt a 'first past the post' system for their national elections.

If parliament is dissolved and an early election called, the referendum cannot be held.

Mr D'Alema said it would be a mistake to force a snap election.

"My opinion is that it is parliament's duty to reform the electoral law and to give the country a system that guarantees the stability and the authority of the government," he said.

"I will put these considerations to parliament. I will take note of parliament's decision."

Italian opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi called for early elections after Sunday's ballot.

"I do not believe that this government can still be legitimate and continue," Mr Berlusconi said.

Separatist Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, one of Mr Berlusconi's allies in the centre-right Freedom Alliance, also demanded that the prime minister resign.

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19 Dec 99 | Europe
D'Alema to form new government
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