In one of the toughest and closest-run elections in the countrys post-war history an unofficial projection now gives the centre-left LUnione coalition a majority of two seats in the senate. If this is officially confirmed LUnione will have won both houses of parliament but by a very small majority. The overseas votes of Italians resident abroad appear to have been decisive in the election of four senate seats for the LUnione, one for the Casa delle Libert and one independent.

Centre-left leader Romano Prodi has been claiming victory since the small hours of Tuesday morning, but his opponent Silvio Berlusconi has yet to concede defeat. He called a press conference late Tuesday afternoon, saying that he would not accept defeat until there had been a recount of contested returns in some polling stations, which he hopes will change the balance in favour of the centre-right coalition. The Berlusconi camp is claiming that 500,000 votes have been annulled and wants to know why. Interior ministry figures give the Prodi bloc as winning the chamber of deputies with a margin of only 25,000 votes.