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Italian PM awaits 32nd vote of confidence

 Italian PM awaits 32nd vote of confidence
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The future of Italy’s government hangs in the balance with a vote of confidence scheduled for later today. But with 31 such votes behind him, Prime Minister Romano Prodi must be growing used to the suspense.

Former justice minister Clemente Mastella withdrew his Udeur party’s support on Monday, leaving Prodi outnumbered in the Senate and with few options but to resign or call a vote of confidence. With a comfortable majority in the lower house, he is expected to win today’s vote. But tomorrow’s, in the Senate, could be a different story.

Professor Franco Pavoncello said that will be the real test: “We will have to see what kind of capacity he has to woo some votes from senators, even the senators of the Udeur of Mr Mastella when the chips are down. “Whether, at the end, the members of the coalition in the Senate are going to be willing to have the government fall and strengthen the opposition to go to a vote in these conditions.”

Even if Prodi loses, the future is far from clear. Many believe Italy needs new electoral laws to stop smaller parties from wielding too much power. Analysts say if Prodi goes, the president may form an interim government to oversee such reforms.

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