It had started like a farce, with PM Silvio Berlusconi's party's lists and candidates excluded from regional elections due next 28 March because of procedural mistakes. But as laughter died and the government found out it was about to lose in the Rome and Milan regions, it resorted to a surprise move: a tailored retroactive decree that changed application rules to save its candidates. The opposition, which had until then kept quiet, was shocked but couldn't find a common line: some cried unconstitutionality and took to the streets in protest, others considered withdrawing from the race. Opposition daily La Repubblica strongly counters the latter strategy: "We are facing an unprecedented drift towards legal self-righteousness, as if the country didn't exist. The opposition should vote them off this notion."