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Italian president begins talks to avoid crisis

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Italian president begins talks to avoid crisis

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The Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, has begun crisis talks to prevent snap elections following the resignation of Prime Minister Romano Prodi. The meetings with a long list of political leaders is expected to go on until Tuesday. The head of state wants an interim government in place to oversee changes to the electoral system which is widely blamed for Italy’s chronic political instability.

Prodi’s government was the 61st since the Second World War. He stepped down on Thursday after losing a confidence vote in the Senate. Although he remains caretaker prime minister, Prodi says the vote proved he was not the man to carry out the reforms.

That leaves the way clear for Silvio Berlusconi to benefit from another reversal of fortunes. The former prime minister, who heads the largest centre-right opposition party, is lobbying heavily for elections – and opinion polls suggest if they do go ahead, Italy’s richest man would return to power.