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Romano Prodi may get back to work

Prodi stepped down after an embarrassing parliamentary defeat over foreign policy.

world Updated:

Romano Prodi on Saturday appeared set to return to office as premier, after his center-left allies renewed their support in his government.

Prodi was expected to get the nod from the Italian president, who held two days of talks aimed at solving the political crisis that began with Prodi's resignation on Wednesday.

The president, Giorgio Napolitano, said he would announce his decision on Saturday. Prodi stepped down after an embarrassing parliamentary defeat over foreign policy, including the government's plan to keep troops in Afghanistan.

Defections by radical leftists, who have been voicing opposition to various government policies, were to blame.

In consultations with the president Friday, all center-left leaders said they were ready to support any bids by Prodi to return to the premiership.

They all asked Napolitano to reject Prodi's resignation and send him back to parliament to face a new vote of confidence -- a technique employed sometimes in this country to bring a swift end to political crises.

But Prodi's majority in the Senate is not guaranteed, leading center-left leaders to seek to broaden the coalition to some Catholic senators and rally the support of honorary senators appointed for life.

Prodi said he would only return to office with ironclad commitments from the various parties to support government policy. He outlined his priorities in a detailed, 12-point plan that all coalition leaders have pledged to support.

Prodi said the plan, which calls for respecting Italy's international commitments in Afghanistan and elsewhere, would be non-negotiable.

"If I am given the chance, I think it is my duty to give it another try," the premier was quoted as saying Saturday in Corriere della Sera.

Napolitano might ask him to stay on and seek a new vote of confidence in parliament with his current Cabinet ministers. Or he might ask Prodi or another leader from his coalition to form a new center-left government.

Alternatively he might tap an institutional figure above the political fray to form a Cabinet -- possibly with broad support from both coalitions. He could also call early elections, although commentators said this seemed doubtful.

First Published: Feb 24, 2007 14:34 IST