Accessibility links

Italian Government Survives Confidence Vote by Slim Margin

Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi won a confidence vote in the Senate on Wednesday, exactly one week after he submitted his resignation. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome for VOA that the vote ensured the survival of his nine-month-old center-left government, at least for the moment.

Senate speaker Franco Marini read out the result of the much-waited confidence vote. He said there were 320 senators who were present in the upper house for the vote. The majority needed was 160 and the result of the vote was 162 votes in favor and 157 against.

The government of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi survived the vote, which had been in question right until the very end. Prodi resigned last week after a defeat in the Senate on the government's foreign policy.

Following consultations with the country's party leaders, the Italian president had asked Mr. Prodi to stay on and put his Cabinet to new confidence votes in parliament. On Friday, the prime minister will submit his nine-month government to a vote in the lower house, where he has a comfortable majority.

Pointing to Mr. Prodi's two vote margin of victory in the Senate, many opposition leaders say the government will not be able to stay afloat for long.

Electoral law in Italy favors broad coalitions, such as Mr. Prodi's bickering Catholic-to-communist alliance, rather than strong majorities. The law is widely blamed for the country's political instability, which has given Italy 61 governments since World War II. Mr. Prodi has promised electoral reform if confirmed in his job.

Mr. Prodi said before the vote that there was general agreement that the electoral law must be changed - that an electoral law must be found that would guarantee governance in Italy.

The government's five-year mandate expires in 2011 but its future stability, with such a tiny majority in the Senate, is doubtful.

In a sign of the continuing difficulties facing Mr. Prodi, some coalition senators said Wednesday that while they supported the government in the confidence vote, they continued to be opposed to the country's military presence in Afghanistan and would vote against an upcoming measure to refinance the mission there.