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Italian PM awaits make-or-break confidence vote

 Italian PM awaits make-or-break confidence vote
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Italy’s Prime Minister Romano Prodi has told the Senate that if it forces him to resign following this evening’s no confidence vote, a “power vacuum” will leave the Italian economy vulnerable to a global slowdown.

Prodi sought a showdown in both houses after a small Catholic party withdrew its support, wiping out his coalition’s majority in the upper house. He said: “I’m asking every one of you, members of the Senate for confidence to relaunch with new power and awareness, a wider reform process that our country needs urgently.”

Prodi decided to go ahead with the vote against the advice of President Giorgio Napolitano. If Prodi loses the Senate, he must hand in his resignation to the president, who will then discuss with all the main political parties where to go next. Opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi would prefer a snap election as he has a clear lead in the polls.