Italy’s centre-left has been celebrating after its candidates were elected speakers of the upper and lower houses of parliament.
It is a breakthrough after several tense ballots that showed how fragile the coalition’s hold on power is likely to be in government.
Franco Marini is the new Senate speaker. He won by just nine votes.
Previous rounds had descended into farce when a handful of politicians misspelled his name, with some suspicion they did so on purpose to show that their support should not be taken for granted.
Prodi’s bloc fared marginally better in the lower house, where veteran communist Fausto Bertinotti was elected speaker with an absolute majority.
However, it also took four rounds of voting for the 66-year-old to emerge victorious.
That left commentators speculating whether Prodi can persuade the disparate parties that support him to close ranks enough to form a new administration.
The former European Commission president won by a slim margin in the Italian general election, earlier this month.
Even with the two speakers in place he still faces further hurdles.
It is the Italian president who names the prime minister but the current head of state is stepping down in May and will have to be replaced by parliament before a government can be appointed.