Chief lawmakers in the Italian parliament meet later Monday to decide when Premier Romano Prodi's government will face a vote of confidence, after the Italian president this weekend rejected Prodi's resignation in the latest political crisis to hit the country.
News reports said the key vote in the Senate, where the center-left coalition was defeated last week in the foreign policy vote that set off the crisis, could take place on Thursday.
Prodi can count only on a razor-thin majority in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, and has struggled since coming to power nine months ago to hold together a coalition ranging from pro-Vatican centrists to Communists and Greens.
The premier submitted his resignation Wednesday after some far-leftists in the Senate refused to back the government in a vote on Italy's military mission in Afghanistan and other foreign policy.
The motion was not a confidence vote, and therefore was not binding. After two days of consultations with political leaders, President Giorgio Napolitano on Saturday told Prodi to submit his government to parliament for a confidence vote, rejecting calls from the conservative opposition for early elections or a broad-coalition Cabinet.
Prodi has a one-seat majority in the Senate, and center-left leaders are frantically courting outside senators to ensure the confidence vote goes smoothly. At least one centrist Marco Follini, a former deputy premier who has since left the conservative coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi has said he will back the government, reports AP.
Prodi has often been able to count also on the vote of most of the seven senators-for-life, who are outside coalition parties, but that strategy backfired Wednesday when Giulio Andreotti, a former premier and veteran Christian Democrat politician, and industrialist Sergio Pininfarina abstained from the vote, contributing to Prodi's defeat.
Andreotti said in interviews published in newspapers Monday that he would give the government his confidence vote to ensure Italy's political stability.