It was a gamble but having survived a confidence vote over next year’s budget Italy’s centre-left government is hoping for a period of relative stability. Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s coalition, which has a majority of just one in the Senate, won the vote with the backing of five life senators.
The hard-hitting budget is intended to rein in Italy’s soaring debt, but is deeply unpopular. It passed only after numerous amendments. Had it been rejected the government would have fallen. The outcome has stirred a debate about the voting rights of the unelected senators-for-life. They are nominated to parliament in recognition for services rendered to the country. While Prodi has won this round, the centre-right opposition, led by Silvio Berlusconi, has vowed to keep the pressure on his fragile administration.