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Guardian: Prodi soldiers on with new allies

hree days after dramatically resigning in the wake of a narrow defeat in parliament, Romano Prodi has stiffened his crumbling coalition and received the go-ahead to push on as Prime Minister of Italy.

Following two days of emergency talks with political leaders, culminating in a one-to-one talk with Prodi on Saturday morning, President Giorgio Napolitano refused Prodi's resignation and told him to return to parliament for a confidence vote, which could be held as soon as Wednesday.

Prodi quit last Wednesday after his nine-party coalition was defeated by two Senate votes on a motion backing the government's foreign policy. His return is boosted by new declarations of allegiance from partners and the recruitment of a Catholic centrist senator Marco Follini, a deputy prime minister in the government of Silvio Berlusconi. Asked if he was now sure of a Senate majority, Prodi said: 'I think so, but there will be a debate and we will see.'

Berlusconi attacked Napolitano's statement that 'there was no other concrete alternative' to Prodi, claiming: 'The left will never find the consensus for providing this country with the reforms it needs. The agony is set to continue.'

Prodi has never enjoyed more than a one- or two-seat majority in the upper house and two communist senators angry about Italy's presence in Afghanistan last week denied the government precious votes, contributing to his defeat. The Prime Minister has since signed up his allies to a 12-point plan that includes backing peace-keeping missions and giving him the sole right to speak on behalf of the coalition.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 26th, 2007 at 12:57:06 AM EST
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