Italy’s Prime Minister-elect Romano Prodi has moved one step closer to taking office after the country’s disputed election. After four ballots his candidate for speaker of the Senate, parliament’s upper house, had a surprisingly clear win on Saturday, a result Prodi says demonstrates his coalition’s strength.
But the centre-left alliance leader is remaining tight-lipped about how soon he expects to form a government. When questioned early today he said talks are still taking place and he’ll be ready as soon as the president asks. Several Italian newspapers say the President may be ready to ask Prodi to form a government by next weekend – a change of heart for the retiring Carlo Azeglio Ciampi who’s previously indicated that his successor should make the choice. Silvio Berlusconi, meanwhile, has finally admitted defeat following the centre-left’s victory in the upper house. He announced he will resign tomorrow. Many analysts predict a bright future for Prodi. He should be able to rely on a slightly wider margin in the Senate than his official two-seat majority, thanks to the support of several life senators who are appointed by the president.