Prodi faces confidence vote to save coalition

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The Independent Online

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi appealed to lawmakers yesterday to back his teetering coalition with a confidence vote in a bid to avoid early elections.

The move comes following a difficult two weeks for Mr Prodi, in which Clemente Mastella resigned as Justice Minister after learning that both he and his wife, who is president of the Campania regional council in southern Italy, were being investigated for alleged corruption.

Mr Mastella then withdrew his party's support from the centre-left coalition, which contains nine parties.

In his address he read out a list of achievements, including sending an international peacekeeping force to Lebanon and cutting spending.

A loss in either the Chamber of Deputies or the upper Senate chamber will force Mr Prodi to resign after just 20 months in power. To survive a confidence vote he needs the support of seven "senators for life".