London, March 3 (ANI): Nicole Minetti, the oral hygienist who put the smile back on Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's face after he was assaulted in Milan last year, will not be able to contest the polls from Lombardy after the People of Liberty (PdL) party was disqualified from two of this month's regional polls.
Berlusconi's PdL was barred from taking part in the elections for failing to submit valid electoral lists in time.
Unless an appeal lifts the ban, the PdL will not be able to contest polls in Lazio, the region surrounding Rome, and Lombardy, Berlusconi's home ground, because of what the media dubbed as a "comedy of errors".
The elections are being seen as a test of the Italian Premier's declining popularity amid sex scandals and corruption allegations.
In Lazio, Alfredo Milioni, a PdL official, arrived at the election office half an hour early but went away only to return 15 minutes after the noon deadline. While Milioni offered numerous explanations for the mishap some believe the party missed the deadline because of last-minute wrangling over candidates, reports the Times.
Berlusconi, 73, was said to be fuming. And his mood worsened even more when it came to be known that the PdL list in Lombardy, his home region around Milan, had also been declared void because 514 of the required 3,500 signatures were ruled to be invalid.
The step has crushed Minetti's political career even before it had started.
PdL officials claim the left-wing Radical Party, which filed a complaint about "irregular" signatures in Milan and whose members allegedly jostled and "distracted" Milioni as he tried to submit the papers in Rome, was responsible for the fiasco.
But Emma Bonino, leader of the Radical Party and centre-left candidate for president of the Lazio region, said charge was "a laughable lie". Renata Polverini, the PdL candidate for the same post, urged President Napolitano, Italy's head of state, to intervene over "this bureaucratic problem". However, Napolitano refused, saying the matter had to be decided by a court. Berlusconi said he would put his faith in the judiciary.
A final decision on the matter must be made by March 13, when electoral lists are published.
The elections are scheduled for March 28 and 29. (ANI)