Italy remains in political limbo, despite yesterday’s resignation by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. It is expected Parliament has to select a president for a seven year term before a government can be formed. That contest, scheduled for May 8, could be as bitter as the closely fought parliamentary elections.
President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi is under pressure to ease the transition to a new government by standing for a second term. But the 85-year-old has already indicated he is stepping down when his term ends on May 18. Ciampi is yet to open consultations on the formation of a government. In the meantime, he has asked Berlusconi to stay in office as a caretaker leader. Romano Prodi insists he is ready to take the reins and govern in spite of his slim majority in the Senate. Getting a centre-left candidate into the president’s office would smooth his path to power, but that is looking increasingly difficult.