The future of the Italian Prime Minister is on the line, with Romano Prodi forced to call yet another vote of confidence. After losing the support of a key ally over a corruption investigation, Prodi will demand MPs’ backing for the 32nd time, either personally or over new laws, since winning the elections in 2006.
He has a comfortable majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but his government is in the minority in the Senate.
Today’s Italian newspapers naturally lead with the story, the heavyweights asking where next? The voice of a breakaway northern group goes further, comparing Prodi’s woes with the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Clemente Mastella quit as Justice Minister to support his wife’s defence against corruption allegations in Naples. It later emerged he too, was embroiled in the inquiry.
The former premier Silvio Belusconi lost no time in calling for Prodi to resign, and demanded immediate elections. His centre-right group is ahead in most polls.
Whatever the outcome, this crisis may see urgent reform of Italy’s messy election rules. Introduced by Berlusconi’s government, small parties with a handful of seats often hold the balance of power.