Italy’s Prodi Can’t Form New Gov’t
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.