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Berlusconi in election pact

Rome - The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi sealed an electoral pact with the leader of the country's largest centre party, the Christian Democrat PPI, paving the way for him to revive his ailing political fortunes and restore the majority he lost when he resigned in December, writes Andrew Gumbel.

Mr Berlusconi, looking happier than he has for days, described the pact as "good news for Italy". His new partner, the PPI leader Rocco Buttiglione, explained how he hoped his party would join forces with Mr Berlusconi's Freedom Alliance in regional elections due next month. The solidity of the pact remains to be seen, however, since a majority of the PPI's parliamentarians opposes a deal with Mr Berlusconi.