Premier Silvio Berlusconi thanked Italians on Tuesday for his election victory despite what he said was a "slander campaign" against him regarding suggestions he had an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old model.
Berlusconi's People's Freedom Party got 35 percent backing in European Parliament elections last weekend, less than he predicted but far more than the 26 percent for the center-left Democratic Party.
Berlusconi's party and his center-right allies also scored big in local elections held at the same time, wresting some key city and provincial seats from the center-left.
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