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Italy’s Prodi Can’t Form New Gov’t

October 15, 1998

ROME (AP) _ Premier Romano Prodi gave up on his bid to form a new government today, telling Italy’s president that his negotiations had failed.

President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro offered the premiership back to Prodi on Tuesday, five days after Prodi’s center-left government lost a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies by a single ballot.

Prodi’s government had been Italy’s second-longest since World War II.

Lacking the support of his former ally, the far-left Communist party, Prodi had held talks with the centrist party of former President Francesco Cossiga to see if they could work together. Those talks failed Wednesday night.

``I knew the difficulties I would face, but in the best interests of my country, I needed to take risks and face a difficult situation. But my assignment proved impossible,″ Prodi said today.

Prodi had insisted he won’t lead a new government unless it sticks to the same cost-cutting policies as his old one.

The pressure was on Prodi to pass a cost-cutting 1999 budget that meets requirements of the European common currency, the euro, which takes effect Jan. 1.

Scalfaro can now ask someone else to try to form a government or he can call early elections. Most observers think elections are unlikely.

``I hope Italy will soon have a stable government and a cohesive majority,″ Prodi said.

Opposition forces, led by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, have insisted that the only proper choice was new parliamentary elections, 2 1/2 years early.

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