Italy Headed for Caretaker Government

Elder statesman will form interim coalition before elections
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2008 10:33 AM CST
Italian premier Romano Prodi, midrow sitting with light-blue tie, looks on amongst government representatives, prior to a confidence vote in the Senate, in Rome, Thursday Jan. 24, 2008.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Italy's president has asked Senate speaker Franco Marini to form an interim government in a last-ditch effort to reform election laws ahead of a snap poll, reports the BBC. Marini was invited to head a temporary administration to change Italy's crippling voting system, which privileges small parties and has led to the unmanageable multi-party coalitions that led to PM Romano Prodi's downfall.

Silvio Berlusconi, riding high in the polls, has demanded an immediate election, but Italian political observers say a caretaker government is a near certainty. "Marini will have a narrow majority in the Senate, but you can't have elections with the current system," one political scientist told Bloomberg. The 74-year-old Marini is a former labor union leader. (Read more Franco Marini stories.)