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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 21:53 GMT
Italian PM survives Senate vote
Romano Prodi
Mr Prodi's government only has a one-seat majority in the Senate
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has won a confidence vote in the Senate, allowing him to continue in office.

The narrow victory, by 162-157, came a week after Mr Prodi lost a Senate vote on his foreign policy, prompting the centre-left government to stand down.

President Giorgio Napolitano had asked him to stay on and put his cabinet to a confidence vote in parliament.

On Friday the PM will face another vote in the lower house, where he has a large majority and is expected to win.

"I am very satisfied, now we'll go to the lower house," Mr Prodi told reporters after Wednesday's vote.

He resigned last week after nine months in office, when two Communist members of his coalition voted against him in the Senate, tipping the vote against him.

They objected to troop deployments in Afghanistan and plans to expand the Vicenza US airbase in northern Italy.

Challenges ahead

Mr Prodi's supporters, ranging from Communists to former Christian Democrats, later closed ranks.

Italian PM Romano Prodi delivers his address to the Senate in Rome on 27 February

Mr Prodi won the subsequent ballot by a margin on only five votes - including four from unelected life-time senators.

Without them the prime minister lives on a knife edge, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in Rome.

All nine parties in the coalition have signed up to a binding agreement on the government's policies but there are still disagreements on several key policies, our correspondent adds.

Contentious issues include the Italian mission in Afghanistan and pension reform, which some left-wing senators oppose.

The government also plans to give legal rights to unmarried and gay couples.

The bill is still to come before the Senate and the Catholics in the centre of the ruling coalition have said they will never accept it.

Analysts say Mr Prodi still faces a big challenge, and with only a one seat majority in the Senate his disparate coalition remains as vulnerable as ever.

Share of power in Italian Senate
Further detail of Centre-left seats (others)
Italy of Values - 4 seats
Popular-UDEUR - 3 seats
The Union - South Tyrolean People's Party - 3 seats
South Tyrolean People's Party - 2 seats
Consumers' List - 1 seat
Olive Tree - 1 seat
Autonomy Liberty Democracy - 1 seat
The Union (abroad) - 4 seats

Romano Prodi is congratulated on his win

Profile: Romano Prodi
22 Feb 07 |  Europe

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