Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi appears to have decided to brave a vote of confidence in the Senate this evening, even though he is expected to lose. He went to see the president this morning, prompting speculation he was going to resign. As head of state, Giorgio Napolitano could dissolve parliament or ask Prodi, another political leader or even a technocrat to form an interim government.
That administration could then push through changes to Italy’s electoral laws, which are widely blamed for the country’s chronic instability. As expected, Prodi won yesterday’s vote of confidence in the lower house, where he has a clear majority. Waiting in the wings, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi wants early elections.
Italians woke up to a clutch of bleak headlines – “Judgement day for Italy” read one. Many people in Rome expressed disappointment at the situation. “Either we change the electoral law or we’ll be back here in six months,” said one man. A woman added: “I’m on the Left. In this case I have the impression they are playing games. I honestly don’t know what to think anymore. I would almost like to leave Italy.”