Berlusconi Seeks New Elections in Italy

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Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned Thursday after the center-left coalition he led lost a confidence vote in the Senate. Opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi, a former prime minister, demanded immediate elections. David Willey of the BBC reports.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

We're going to bring you some drama this morning. Think of this as a play in three acts. We'll start in the real world, move over to show business, and dwell somewhat on the line in between. And we begin with the sometimes dramatic business of politics.

Italy's politics produced a spectacle worthy of the stage yesterday. Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned after losing a confidence vote, and for that story we go to the BBC's David Willey.

Mr. DAVID WILLEY (BBC): It was an evening of high drama in the Italian parliament with Romano Prodi fighting to the last to save his two-year-old center-left coalition. One senator announced he was crossing over from the opposition to support Mr. Prodi and was promptly spat upon. He fainted and was carried away on a stretcher.

The opposition leader, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's wealthiest businessman, was triumphant and has called for a snap election. Senators supporting him were unable to restrain their enthusiasm and opened bottles of champagne to celebrate Mr. Prodi's defeat, getting told off by the speaker of the Senate, who reminded them they weren't in a pub.

President Giorgio Napolitano is expected to ask Mr. Prodi to continue as caretaker until he makes a decision on whether or not to call early elections.

INSKEEP: So that's the BBC's David Willey giving us the drama in Italy.

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