Page last updated at 10:55 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:55 UK

Italy TV row sparks hunger strike

File photo of Italy's Radical party leader Emma Bonino
Emma Bonino is a former European commissioner

Members of a small political party in Italy are on hunger strike in protest at what they say is unfair television coverage of the European elections.

The liberal Radical party accuses public television broadcaster Rai of failing to obey a media watchdog ruling to give equal air time to the party.

Party leader Emma Bonino and others have occupied Rai's studios after beginning the hunger strike on Tuesday.

Politicians have been long accused of interference over television coverage.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi currently controls 90% of mainstream television, through his ownership of private broadcaster Mediasat and indirect influence over Rai, Reuters news agency reports.

Ms Bonino, 61, a former trade minister and European commissioner, said she wanted Rai to comply with a ruling by Agcom, an official watchdog, that it rebalance its political coverage.

"In Italy nobody knows what they are voting for, what is the European parliament, who is standing or on what platform," she told the Financial Times on Wednesday, after 36 hours without food or drink.

Italians are due to vote for the European parliament on Saturday and Sunday.

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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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