Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Well, There They Go Again

Prodi Coalition on the Brink of Collapse

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government seems on the brink of collapse after a tiny party withdrew from his shaky center-left ruling coalition on Monday. The beleagured prime minister said Tuesday he will now try to maintain continuity by seeking a confidence vote in both houses of parliament.

The crisis comes in the wake of the resignation of Justice Minister Clemente Mastella last week and his decision on Monday to pull his small UDEUR party out of the coalition.

Prodi still has a majority in the lower house, but the loss of UDEUR's three senators means that his already precarious one-seat majority in the Senate is now gone.

Mastella had initially indicated that he would support the government from outside after his involvement in a corruption scandal prompted his resignation. He and his wife Sandra Lonardo, a senior official in the Campania region, have been placed under investigation, though both deny any wrongdoing. Mastella insists that he has been targeted due to his attempts to reform the judiciary. On Monday, Mastella complained that his fellow ministers had failed to back him up and that he would now vote against the government, adding: "This center-left experience is over."

The center-right opposition, led by former Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi, is chomping at the bit to profit from the Prodi government's disarray. "We should have elections straight away," Berlusconi insisted on Monday. But one ally, Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, who faces a confidence vote himself over the Naples garbage crisis (more...), urged his fellow politicians to back Prodi: "It would be masochism to hand Italy back to Berlusconi," he said Tuesday.


See the rest at der Spiegel Online

Heh. With sixty-one governments under their belts since 1945, you never know, the Italians just might get it right . . . this time.

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