Berlusconi seen falling short in Italy election
By Barry Moody
ROME (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi has little chance of destabilizing a center-left government after Italy's February election and outgoing premier Mario Monti is the most likely to become kingmaker, one of Italy's top experts on voting trends said on Wednesday.
Political scientist Roberto D'Alimonte, a professor at the Luiss private university in Rome, said the most likely result of the election was a center-left government strong enough to rule alone or in coalition with Monti's centrists.
This prediction may reassure investors worried by the risk that Berlusconi could play a spoiler role after the election, returning Italy to the kind of instability that forced his replacement by Monti in November 201l as Italy careened towards a Greek-type meltdown.
The center left of Pier Luigi Bersani, which is well ahead in opinion polls, is thought certain to win the lower house. But the real battle will be in the Senate, where seats are decided on a regional basis.
Berlusconi's strategy, fortified by an electoral pact this week with the federalist Northern League, is to win enough Senate seats to prevent Bersani passing legislation.
D'Alimonte said that as things stand this is practically impossible.
Using an Ipsos opinion poll published on Tuesday from four battleground regions in the Senate race, and updated projections from a previous survey, D'Alimonte put forward 10 different scenarios in the financial daily Sole 24 Ore.
In only one of these scenarios could Berlusconi play a blocking role and D'Alimonte said this was highly unlikely. Continued...