WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- Opposition leader Romano Prodi said Monday that he would beat Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi by a narrow election margin, according to an Italian journalist.
The journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told United Press International that Prodi predicted his center-left bloc would win elections by "three to four percent" of the vote during a conversation earlier in the day.
If elected, Prodi will take the helm of a broad coalition spanning Roman Catholic centrists to communists looking to him to revive a stalled economy. He has led nationwide opinion polls for the last two years.
According to an early exit poll, the former European Commission president's coalition claimed between 50 and 54 percent of the vote in both the upper and lower chambers of parliament, versus 45 to 49 percent for Berlusconi's center-right alliance. The poll was conducted by the Nexus group and reported on Italy's Rai television network.
Prodi defeated arch-rival Berlusconi in 1996 general election but his government unraveled after two years when communist allies broke away.