Italian PM Prodi loses confidence vote, resigns

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prodi in 2006.
Image: Jollyroger.

Romano Prodi, the Prime Minister of Italy, resigned Thursday evening after losing a vote of confidence in the Senate by a vote of 161-156.

The vote comes in the wake of a growing crisis regarding corruption charges against Prodi's former Minister of Justice, Clemente Mastella. Prodi's fate was sealed when the UEDUR Populars, a smaller component of Prodi's ruling Olive Tree coalition, broke ranks and voted against him.

Prodi did win the confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, but was not expected to win the vote in the Senate. Some believed he would resign before the Senate vote and avoid the embarrassment of losing the majority approval of Parliament.

The President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, must now decide whether to appoint a new Prime Minister or to dissolve Parliament and schedule new elections. Some want a reform of election rules before a new election is called. Recent opinion polls indicate that Silvio Berlusconi would become Prime Minister once more if elections were held.

It was the current election rules, introduced by Berlusconi during his most recent stint as Prime Minister, that allowed Prodi to assume power after the 2006 parliamentary elections.

"Now we must go to vote. We will say what we want to do in the first 100 days of our government," said former prime minister and opposition leader Berlusconi, demanding elections.

In a speech prior to the vote, Prodi said, "Stopping the government's work is a luxury Italy cannot afford," and warned that Italy "cannot afford a power vacuum."

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