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Berlusconi may try to delay elections

The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called an emergency cabinet meeting yesterday to try to solve the chaos threatening his coalition's chances of success in regional elections this month.

After a fruitless meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday, Mr Berlusconi was left struggling to find a way to salvage the centre-right's chances in two crucial regions. Several politicians from Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom coalition lost their place on the ballot list in Lombardy and Lazio because of irregularities in presenting their candidacies. Cabinet ministers said the government may pass a decree to ease the requirements for participation in the elections, forcing magistrates to reverse their decisions.

Some reports have said the government may even try to delay the vote, due on 28-29 March. The regional polls are seen as a test of national strength for Mr Berlusconi.