Italian president to begin consultations after Prodi resignation
( dpa ) - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was scheduled later Friday to holds talks with parliamentary speakers - the first of a series of consultations on what to do next following the resignation of Romano Prodi as prime minister.
Napolitano has the power call a new general election or hand a candidate a mandate to form a new government - which would then have to be approved by Parliament.
Silvio Berlusconi, together with most other opposition leaders as well as some of the smaller parties in Prodi's defeated coalition, are clamouring for a snap election.
On Thursday night following the centre-left government's defeat in a confidence vote in Parliament's upper house, the Senate, Berlusconi, buoyed by opinion polls that give him a clear lead, reiterated his stance.
"We have to give citizens back their voice," Berlusconi said.
Under Italian law elections must be held between the 45th and 70th day following the dissolution of parliament, giving Berlusconi who was voted out of office in April 2006 the possibility to regain the premier's job by Spring.
But Napolitano who favours reforms to Italy's electoral law aimed at giving governments more stability, is expected to try and seek agreement across the political divide for the creation of an interim of care-taker government, possibly led by an institutional figure or a technocrat.
Names being touted as possible candidates to lead such a government include Senate Speaker Franco Marini and Italy's central bank governor, Mario Draghi.
Napolitano faces a difficult task also given the acrimony surrounding the demise of Prodi's government - Italy's 61st since the end of World War II.
Prodi's Senate defeat was due to the defection of key allies including former justice minister Clemente Mastella who pulled his UDEUR party from the centre-left coalition earlier this week.
Mastella who resigned last week after his wife was placed under house arrest on corruption charges, had accused other members of the coalition of not showing him enough solidarity. Berlusconi has said Mastella would be welcome to run with the centre-right in a future election
During the Senate vote on Thursday evening, a member of Mastella's UDEUR party announced that he would break ranks and vote for the premier. He was then loudly insulted - and according to some reports spat at - by another UDEUR colleague and fainted.
Senate Speaker Marini suspended the session for several minutes, while Nuccio Cusumano was carried out of the chamber on a stretcher after he fainted.
Cusumano later recovered to vote, but his contribution was not enough to save Prodi, who lost 161-156.