Italy’s centre-right opposition is keeping the pressure on the government after it narrowly avoided defeat in a a budget vote. Their leader, Silvio Berlusconi, is urging people to join a campaign for new elections. The former prime minister had predicted Romano Prodi’s centre-left administration would not survive the vote in the Senate. Some of Berlusconi’s allies, however, do not believe the time is right for fresh elections. They are pushing instead for dialogue with the ruling coalition on several big issues, including electoral reform.
The media tycoon believes such talks would be pointless as he claims Prodi and his partners are not capable of taking a unified position. The opposition has its own troubles. In one national daily Gianfranco Fini, leader of the second biggest opposition party said the budget vote showed Berlusconi was unable to use parliament to elbow Prodi out of office. The consensus among analysts is that while the ballot may have been a pyrrhic victory for Prodi, it did no favours for his arch-rival. The budget now passes to the Chamber of Deputies, where Prodi has a much more comfortable majority.