Brussels defends Prodi over Italian poll

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The European Commission denied yesterday that Romano Prodi was using his office to mount a political campaign in Italy after his picture appeared on election posters for the Italian centre-left.

The European Commission denied yesterday that Romano Prodi was using his office to mount a political campaign in Italy after his picture appeared on election posters for the Italian centre-left.

A spokesman for Mr Prodi, the commission president, rejected claims that he was breaking rules against involvement in national politics, as the controversy burst ahead of elections to the European Parliament.

"The president is not campaigning in any country's domestic politics," said Reijo Kemppinen, adding that his image was being used because "he is merited to be a very popular politician in Italy".

One poster for the centre-left Olive Tree coalition features a close-up of Mr Prodi against a backdrop of the European flag. On the right it says: "Iraq: a wrong war. Europe: the strength of peace." Mr Prodi is not standing as a candidate in the European elections in June, nor is he leading any party, although the centre-left's slate of candidates has been described by the press as the "Prodi list".

Italy's last prime minister but one, "the Professor" as Mr Prodi is known in the Italian press, is seen by the centre-left as the only leader with the stature to challenge Silvio Berlusconi, the premier and media magnate.

In February, Mr Prodi told a rally of the Olive Tree that he was committed to attempting an Italian comeback after he finished his job in Brussels.

Comments