Center-left challenger Romano Prodi claimed victory by the narrowest of margins Tuesday in Italy's parliamentary elections, but Premier Silvio Berlusconi's forces demanded a recount in one chamber as Italy's election failed to deliver a clear verdict.
The outcome of the bitterly contested election hung on the Tuesday's counting of votes cast by Italians living overseas. Prodi's coalition claimed four of the six seats, giving it the necessary margin for victory, but official results hadn't yet been released.
Final returns Tuesday showed Prodi winning the lower Chamber of Deputies by one tenth of a percentage point _ 49.8 to 49.7 percent. Under Italian electoral law, 55 percent of seats are awarded to the overall winner regardless of the scale of victory, giving Prodi's forces 340 seats in the 630-member lower house.
All eyes were on the Senate, however, which Prodi also needed to win to form a government.