When Romano Prodi returned to Italy after five years as President of the European Commission he was seen by many Italians on the Left as their saviour.
The Professor, as he’s known – a former Italian prime minister – was the one to defeat Silvio Berlusconi.
But the Left’s victory over the Right in last year’s general election proved extremely close. Prodi was obliged to build a coalition that included centrist politicians and also ones from the far left.
Tensions were likely to emerge.
Silvio Berlusconi said at the time that he was certain of one thing: the Prodi coalition would not reach the end of its term.
“I do not believe,” he said, “that these men will be able to govern properly. I think this will be a parenthesis, an interruption in our path towards development, progress and freedom.”
His prediction that Prodi and Co wouldn’t last has proved accurate.
This is the third time Prodi has resigned as prime minister. Each time he fell foul of the Communists.
He quit in 1997 when the Communist party – the PRC – refused to back the budget. He was given the task of forming a new government.
And in 1998, he lost a confidence motion when the PRC defected. He handed his resignation in to the then President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
Difficulties in the latest coalition were first seen over legislation on civil unions.
Wednesday’s vote on foreign policy was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Two Communist Senators chose not to give their support – Prodi resigned again.
So what next? That’s down to negotiations – the chances are though that Prodi will remain centre stage.