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Foreign Minister: Italy has escaped the worst option

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja says Italians have sidestepped the worst possible outcome of recent parliamentary elections by not giving an election victory to former premier Silvio Berlusconi. Italy is now in the grip of political deadlock following a closely-fought poll.

Erkki Tuomioja.
Erkki Tuomioja. Image: Yle

Speaking on Yle’s Aamu-tv breakfast programme on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said that Italy had averted the worst outcome of the election, since former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi lost, albeit narrowly.

According to Tuomioja, Berlusconi’s popularity was based on his populist promise to refund billions of euros in taxes paid to the government. He said if Berlusconi had followed through on such a promise, it would have effectively ruined Italy’s goal of economic stability.

The outspoken foreign minister said that the close election result did not come as a surprise.

“This was the common view of the election. It was difficult to say who would win and a stalemate was on the cards,” Tuomioja added.

New election wouldn' t help

It now seems likely that the centre-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani will take the lead in forming a new government. The central question though is whether a Bersani government would be able to continue the reform programme introduced by the previous administration under Mario Monti.

Bersani’s coalition narrowly beat Berlusconi’s conservative in the lower house of parliament, but failed to win a majority in the senate. Bersani would have needed a majority in both houses to govern. Meanwhile, an anti-establishment movement fronted by former comedian Beppe Grillo won a quarter of the vote.

Tuomioja said he did not believe that the situation would become any clearer if the country were to go back to the polls if administration talks were to break down.

The euro lost value on Tuesday as markets reacted nervously to the prospect of a government stalemate in the eurozone's third-biggest economy.

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