Italy, Prodi Resigns
Today's vote in on Prodi's foreign policy lost in the Senate by two votes over troop presence in Afghanistan and extension of the US bases at Vicenza and Sigonella. Truth be told, until now the Left had swallowed the entire package of deregulation/liberalization measures, at odds with its historic positions, but was not prepared to surrender on war. The recent US action in Somalia, a former Italian colonial possession, probably did much in convincing Italy's Left to entrench in opposing Italy's cooperation with further US military undertakings. Already simmering because of Italy's participation in the war in Iraq, the Left and the Greens were pushed to the wall with the announcement of the NATO Spring Offensive in Afghanistan and saber rattling by Washington at Tehran.
Prodi tried to save the bacon by calling a hasty "summit" with Spain's Zapatero on the of Ibiza to placate the Left. It was something of a simple-minded pantomime, like Bush bussing the Saudi Crown Prince: "See, Zapatero is okay with keeping his contingent in Afghanistan, and so should we."
What is pathetic was that because of his decision to pull out of Iraq, Prodi was declared persona non grata in Washington, like Zapatero. [Note: Unprecedented: they are both NATO heads of government]. Pretending nothing was amiss in the rapporto speziale, Prodi soldiered on in traditional pro-American Demo-Christian fashion. But within Italy, where it matters, he apparently lost sight of the necessity of the support of the Greens and the Communists in keeping his government afloat. The resignation is unlikely to put the fear of God in them.
However, it may not be over: There will now be a second vote on confidence -this time whether Mr. Prodi should form a new government.