The government of former Commission president Romano Prodi passed a crucial confidence vote in the Italian Senate, with a tight majority of 162 votes to 157.
“The government is like the Tower of Pisa – it leans, but it doesn’t fall,” said Justice Minister Clemente Mastella, following the 28 February 2007 vote in Italy’s Upper House. The ballot had to be organised after Prodi’s resignation as Italian prime minister the previous week, following a quarrel with two Communist parties present in the reigning centre-left coalition on the government’s foreign-policy guidelines.
The bone of contention was the military engagement in the NATO-led mission to Afghanistan, which involves 1,800 Italian troops deployed in the central-Asian country. Prodi resigned when he did not get the Senate’s approval for the mission – due probably to the defection of a number of Communist senator’s from the nine-party coalition led by Prodi and to resistance from some honarary life-time senators.
But President Giorgio Napolitano asked him to stay in office and put his governement to a confidence vote in senate. The risk of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi taking over after a possible defeat for Prodi seems to have disciplined renegades in the Prodi coalition. On 2 March 2006, Prodi faces another vote on the Afghan mission in the Italian Lower House, where he has a much more comfortable majority than in the Senate.