Italy's PM Romano Prodi may resign today rather than face defeat in a confidence vote scheduled for late this evening. After this week's defection of a small coalition party deprived Prodi of his one-seat Senate majority, his government looks set to fall. A handful of left-wing senators have also said they will vote against the government, leaving Prodi to decide whether to go through with the vote or throw in the towel.
The crisis arose after Prodi's justice minister stepped down in the face of corruption allegations, taking his small but crucial bloc of votes with him. The president has asked Prodi to resign rather than go ahead with the vote, but several ministers have said the PM will hold out and face defeat. With early elections all but a certainty, recent opinion polls have given the Italian right, led by Silvio Berlusconi, a double-digit lead.