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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Prodi team gets Senate approval
Romano Prodi
Romano Prodi also faces a vote in the lower house of parliament
The centre-left government of Italy's new Prime Minister Romano Prodi has won a key vote of confidence in the Senate, two days after he took office.

The upper house approved Mr Prodi's coalition by 165 votes to 155 against.

Crucially all seven senators for life backed his government in the house, where he has only a two-seat majority.

Mr Prodi's coalition narrowly beat former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in April's election. Mr Prodi has a solid majority in the lower house.

On Thursday, Mr Prodi made his first speech to the Senate as leader, calling the war in Iraq a "grave error" and pledging to push for a troop pullout.

Friday's vote was the first of two confidence votes Mr Prodi is facing in the parliament.

We consider the war and occupation in Iraq a grave error that hasn't solved - but has complicated - the problem of security
Romano Prodi

If he lost, the new government would be forced to resign.

In the 640-seat lower house - where Mr Prodi faces a second confidence vote next week - he holds a clear 70-seat majority.

The centre-right opposition led by Mr Berlusconi has said it will seek every opportunity to defeat Mr Prodi's administration.

Uproar

On Thursday Mr Prodi announced plans to reverse many of the policies of his predecessor, pledging to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq, and launched a scathing attack on Italy's political climate.

KEY CABINET POSTS
Prime Minister: Romano Prodi
Foreign: Massimo D'Alema
Culture: Francesco Rutelli
Economy: Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa
Interior: Giuliano Amato
Justice: Clemente Mastella
Defence: Arturo Parisi
Labour: Cesare Damiano
Education: Giuseppe Fioroni
Agriculture: Paolo De Castro
Health: Livia Turco
Environment: Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio
Transport: Alessandro Bianchi

Mr Prodi said Italy needed a social, economic and moral jolt to mark a clean break with the past.

He said there was a climate of tolerance towards unethical if not downright illegal behaviour in Italy, marked by huge conflicts of interest and shameless enrichment.

He said his coalition was ready to govern Italy for the next five years, in order to carry out their objectives.

These include tackling economic stagnation and cancelling constitutional changes carried out by Mr Berlusconi's government.

As Mr Prodi announced plans to withdraw from Iraq he was shouted down by cries of "shame" from right-wing opposition MPs and it took several minutes to restore order.

Mr Prodi gave no date for the withdrawal and said a technical time-frame would have to be worked out with the Iraqi authorities and with the UK and United States.

The previous government of Mr Berlusconi had decided to withdraw Italy's 2,600 troops from Iraq by the end of 2006.


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See inside the Italian Senate



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