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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 22:09 GMT
Prodi's fragile bloc struggles on
As Romano Prodi seems set to return to power as Italian prime minister after surviving a key Senate vote, the BBC's Mark Duff in Milan assesses what Wednesday's ballot means for the government's future.

Romano Prodi
Mr Prodi's is hoping to keep his disparate coalition together
Romano Prodi can breathe more easily after winning his vote of confidence.

But there is no denying the self-destructive tendencies in his Communist-to-Catholic left-of-centre alliance shown up by the past week's events - and those tensions have not gone away.

They are symbolised by the issue that has become the litmus test of the struggle between secularists and those close to the Catholic Church - the campaign to give greater rights to unmarried and same-sex couples.

Mr Prodi had tried to ignore the matter, to secure the backing of those Catholic senators whose votes he needed in order to survive.

But it has - predictably enough - refused to go away.

Some - including his own equal opportunities minister - are already saying it has to be addressed - and soon.

Others, closer to the Vatican, are saying the plan should be shelved because it will never pass in the Senate.

As if all that was not enough, trades unions have begun flexing their muscles against the government's attempts to reform Italy's outdated and costly pensions system.

Mr Prodi lives to fight another day - but his longer term prognosis still looks unhealthy.

Italian prime minister faces his government's critics

Italian PM survives Senate vote
28 Feb 07 |  Europe
Profile: Romano Prodi
22 Feb 07 |  Europe

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