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Why Silvio Berlusconi's party won't be represented in Rome's regional elections.
ROME, Italy — Italy’s biggest party, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s “People of Freedoms” (PdL), might be left out of Rome's upcoming regional elections because of one fatal mistake.
It was 11.40 a.m. on Feb. 27, the last day to formally enlist candidates for the regional elections at the end of this month. PdL delegate Alfredo Milioni, a 50-year-old low-ranking politician who has served 15 years under Berlusconi’s party, had been entrusted with a thick red folder. Inside were the names of 41 local candidates for Rome and 121 neighboring towns — a list that would have provided more than 4 million voters with a pro-Berlusconi choice.
Milioni entered the Rome's courthouse only to walk out minutes later with the list still in his hands. By the time he returned to finish his job, Rome’s courthouse had closed for business and Milioni had missed the noon deadline to register the candidates.
The news hit Berlusconi and his party like a bucket of cold water. Their highly financed candidate Renata Polverini was a shoe-in for victory as governor of Latium, the region Rome is a part of. She now was a baffled politician left off the ballot.
The Milioni disaster set the tone for a new kind of political arena. PdL organized press conferences, marches and rallies to protest the rules. Politicians met with lawyers behind closed doors hoping to find a solution, including a suggestion to use government-mandated powers to edit election rules.
Berlusconi went on television to defend his party’s right to compete. In the meantime, the press attacked Milioni, who even earned a Facebook page mocking his misadventure.
But a mystery remains. Why would someone like Milioni postpone his important task at the courthouse 20 minutes from the final deadline?
Milioni told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that he had stepped out for a quick sandwich. Later, he was quoted saying that he had gone to check on his sick daughter, who was waiting for him in his car. In the end, he said he was reshuffling some documents.
According to the newspaper La Repubblica, Milioni left the courthouse to change some of the names in his list, a last-minute task passed down from high-ranking party members. In the same article, Berlusconi called Milioni and his superiors a bunch of “amateur politicians.” A furious Berlusconi was also reported saying: “I had asked them to improve the list, not boycott it.”