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Italian PM wins first of two confidence votes

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Italian PM wins first of two confidence votes

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As expected, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has won a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament, where he has a comfortable majority. But the future of the centre-left government still hangs by a thread with another vote of confidence in the Senate on Thursday.

The outcome of that will depend on whether Prodi can muster enough support to compensate for recent defections. Some calculations show his best hope is to win by one vote. Government sources say the president has advised him to “review” the wisdom of facing the Senate.

The way forward is clear, says former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: “I think that with the disappearance of the majority, the most logical thing would be that this government continues just for normal administration until the next elections, elections in the very near future.” Another scenario would be the formation of an interim government by the president to overhaul the unpopular and messy electoral system before a new election is held.