Romano Prodi

Romano Prodi

Infobox Prime Minister
honorific-prefix =
name = Romano Prodi

order = Prime Minister of Italy
president = Giorgio Napolitano
deputy = Massimo D'Alema
Francesco Rutelli
term_start = 17 May 2006
term_end = 8 May 2008
predecessor = Silvio Berlusconi
successor = Silvio Berlusconi
president2 = Oscar Luigi Scalfaro
deputy2 = Walter Veltroni
term_start2 = 17 May 1996
term_end2 = 21 October 1998
predecessor2 = Lamberto Dini
successor2 = Massimo D'Alema
order3 = 11th President of the European Commission
term_start3 = 16 September 1999
term_end3 = 30 October 2004
predecessor3 = Manuel Marin
successor3 = José Manuel Barroso
order4 = Acting Minister of Justice of Italy
predecessor4 = Clemente Mastella
successor4 = Luigi Scotti
term_start4 = 17 January 2008
term_end4 = 6 February 2008
order5 = Minister of Industry, Commerce and Craftsmanship of Italy
primeminister5 = Giulio Andreotti
predecessor5 = Carlo Donat-Cattin
successor5 = Franco Nicolazzi
term_start5 = 25 November 1978
term_end5 = 20 March 1979
order6 = Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies
constituency6 = XI - Emilia Romagna
term_start6 = 21 April 2006
term_end6 = 14 April 2008
birth_date = birth date and age|1939|08|09|df=y
birth_place = Scandiano, Italy
religion = Roman Catholic
alma_mater = Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
profession = Economist University professor
party = Democratic Party
spouse = Flavia Franzoni
children = Giorgio Prodi Antonio Prodi

audio|It-Romano Prodi.ogg|Romano Prodi (born 9 August 1939) is an Italian politician and statesman. He served as President of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) of Italy twice, from 17 May 1996 to 21 October 1998 and from 17 May 2006 to 8 May 2008. He was also President of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004.

Prodi ran in 1996 as Olive Tree candidate, winning the election and serving as Prime Minister until 1998. Following the victory of his "The Union" ("L'Unione") coalition over the "House of Freedoms" (Casa delle Libertà) led by Silvio Berlusconi in the April 2006 Italian elections he was in power again. On 24 January 2008, he lost a vote of confidence in the Senate house, and consequently tendered his resignation as prime minister to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, but was in office for almost four months for the routine business, until early elections were held and a new government was formed.

On 14 October 2007, he became the first President of the newborn Democratic Party.


Prodi was born in Scandiano, in the province of Reggio Emilia (Emilia-Romagna). He is the eighth of nine children of Mario Prodi, an engineer originally from a peasant family, and Enrica, a primary school teacher. He has two sisters and six brothers, five of them being like him university professors (one of whom, Vittorio Prodi, is also a Member of the European Parliament; see also Giorgio Prodi, an oncologist and biosemiotician).

Prodi married Flavia Franzoni in 1969. He was married by then-priest Camillo Ruini, now a well-known cardinal. [cite web |url=|title=Profile: Romano Prodi |accessdate=2007-02-25 |date=1999-05-10 |author= |work=BBC News] [cite web |url=|title=A tenuous time for Mr. Serenity|accessdate=2007-02-25 |date=2006-04-12 |author=Fisher, Ian|work=International Herald Tribune] They have two sons, Giorgio and Antonio. He and his family still live in Bologna.

Academic career

After completing his secondary education at the "Liceo Ludovico Ariosto" in Reggio Emilia, Prodi graduated in law at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan in 1961, with a thesis on the role of Protectionism in the development of Italian industry. He then carried out postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics. [ [ Biography of Romano Prodi] (in Italian)]

In 1963, he became a teaching assistant for Beniamino Andreatta in the Department of Economics and the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bologna, subsequently serving as associate professor (1966) and finally (1971-1999) as Professor of Industrial Organisation and Industrial Policy. Prodi has also been a visiting professor at Harvard University and a researcher at the Stanford Research Institute. His research covers mainly competition regulations and the development of small and medium businesses. He is also interested in relations between states and markets, and the dynamics of the different capitalistic models.

Prodi has received almost 20 honorary degrees from institutions in Italy, and from the rest of Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa. Fact|date=March 2008



Prodi's political career began as a left-of-centre reformist Christian Democrat and a disciple of Beniamino Andreatta, another economist turned politician. During the mid-1970s he was appointed Minister of Industry. During Giulio Andreotti's government in 1978 he served as a "Technical Minister"; through the 1980s and early 1990s he continuously served various government committees.

On 2 April 1978, Prodi and other teachers at the University of Bologna passed on a tip-off that revealed the whereabouts of the safe house where the kidnapped Aldo Moro, the former Prime Minister, was being held captive by the Brigate Rosse Red Brigades. Prodi claimed he had been given this tip-off by the founders of the Christian Democratic Party, contacted from beyond the grave via a séance and a Ouija board. Whilst during this supposed séance Prodi thought the word Gradoli referred to a town on the outskirts of Rome, it probably referred to the Roman address of a Red Brigades safe house, located at no. 96, Via Gradoli. Later, other Italian members of the European Commission claimed Prodi had invented this story to conceal the real source of the tip-off, which they believed to have originated somewhere among the far-left Italian political groups. [cite web |url=,2763,206412,00.html |title=Seance points to problem for Prodi|accessdate=2007-02-25 |date=1999-08-03|author=Willan, Philip|work=The Guardian] .

This issue came back again in 2005, when Prodi was accused of being "a KGB man" by Mario Scaramella [cite web |url= |title='Multiple attempts' on Litvinenko|date=22 January 2007|work=BBC ] . The same accusation was raised in 90's by Mitrokhin Commission.

From 1982-1989 and 1993-1994 Prodi, an expert economist and negotiator, was CEO of the powerful state-owned industrial holding company IRI. Though in this position he twice came under investigation - firstly for an alleged conflict of interest in relation to contracts awarded to his own economic research company, and secondly concerning the sale of the loss-making state-owned food conglomerate SME to the multinational Unilever, for which he had, for a time, been a paid consultant - however he was fully acquitted on both counts.

Olive Tree and first cabinet (1996-1998)

In 1995 Prodi was one of the founders of the centre-left Olive Tree coalition, and as its main leader he defeated Silvio Berlusconi and his Pole of Freedoms coalition in the 1996 Italian general election. This led to his nomination as President of the Council of Ministers, as the position of Prime Minister is usually called in Italy. His program consisted in continuing the past governments' work of restoration of the country's economic health, in order to pursue the then seemingly unreachable goal of leading the country within the strict European Monetary System parameters and make the country join the Euro. He succeeded in this in little more than six months. His government fell in 1998 when the Communist Refoundation Party withdrew its support. This led to the formation of a new government led by Massimo D'Alema as Prime Minister. There are those who claim that D'Alema deliberately engineered the collapse of the Prodi government to become Prime Minister himself. As the result of a vote of no confidence in Prodi's government, D'Alema's nomination was passed by a single vote. This was the first and so far, the only occasion in the history of republican Italy on which a vote of no confidence had ever been called; the Republic's many previous governments had been brought down by a majority "no" vote on some crucially important piece of legislation (such as the budget).

President of the European Commission (1999–2004)

In September 1999 Prodi, a prominent pro-European, became President of the European Commission, thanks to the support of both the Christian Democrat and the Social Democratic parties in the European Parliament. It was during Prodi's presidency, in 2002, that eleven EU member states abandoned their national currencies and adopted the Euro as their single currency; and in 2004, still during Prodi's presidency, the EU was enlarged to admit several more countries, most of them formerly part of the Soviet bloc. Prodi's mandate expired on the 18 November 2004, whereupon he returned to domestic politics.

Prodi's return to Italian politics and his second government

Shortly before the end of his term as President of the European Commission, Prodi returned to national Italian politics at the helm of the centre-left coalition, The Union.Having no party of his own, in order to officially state his candidacy for the 2006 general election, Prodi ideated an apposite primary election, the first of such kind to be ever introduced in Europe and seen by its creator (Prodi himself) as a democratic move to bring the public and its opinion closer to the Italian politics, held on October 2005, which he won with over 70% of votes. Over four million people for the occasion went to cast a vote in the primary election. He thus led his coalition to the electoral campaign preceding the election, eventually won by a very narrow margin of 25,000 votes, and a final majority of two seats in the Senate, on April 10. Prodi's appointment was somewhat delayed, as the outgoing President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, ended his mandate in May, not having enough time for the usual procedure (consultations made by the President, appointment of a Prime Minister, motion of confidence and oath of office). After the acrimonious election of Giorgio Napolitano to replace Ciampi, Prodi could proceed with his transition to government. On May 16 he was invited by Napolitano to form a government. The following day, Prodi and his cabinet were sworn in.

Romano Prodi and his cabinet were sworn in on 17 May 2006. Prodi's cabinet drew in politicians from across his centre-left winning coalition, in addition to Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, an unelected former official of the European Central Bank with no partisan membership.

Romano Prodi obtained the support for his cabinet on 19 May at the Senate and on 23 May at the Chamber of Deputies. Also on May 18, Prodi laid out some sense of his new foreign policy when he pledged to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq and called the Iraq war a "grave mistake that has not solved but increased the problem of security". [cite web |url=,,1778041,00.html |title=Prodi condemns Iraq war as 'grave mistake' |accessdate=2007-02-25 |date=2006-05-18 |author=Sturcke, James|work=The Guardian]

The coalition led by Romano Prodi, thanks to the electoral law which gives the winner a sixty seat majority, can count on a good majority in the Chamber of Deputies but only on a very narrow majority in the Senate. The composition of the coalition is very varied, throwing parties of Communist inspiration like "Comunisti Italiani" (Party of Italian Communists) and "Rifondazione Comunista" (Communist Refoundation Party) together with parties of Catholic and liberal inspiration, like "Margherita" (Democracy is Freedom – Daisy) and "UDEUR" (Union of Democrats for Europe), led by Clemente Mastella, a former member of Christian Democratic Party. Therefore, according to critics, it is difficult to have a single policy in different key areas, such as economics and foreign politics (for instance, Italian military presence in Afghanistan). In his earlier months as PM, Prodi had a key role in the creation of a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

2007 crisis, resignation and reappointment

Prodi's government faced a crisis over policies in early 2007, after just nine months of government. Three ministers in Prodi's Cabinet boycotted a vote in January to continue funding for Italian troop deployments in Afghanistan. Lawmakers approved the expansion of the US military base Caserma Ederle at the end of January, but the victory was so narrow that Deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli criticised members of the coalition who had not supported the government. At around the same time, Justice Minister Clemente Mastella, of the coalition member Popular–UDEUR, said he would rather see the government fall than support its unwed couples legislation. [cite web |url=|title=Rift threatens Italian coalition|accessdate=2007-02-25 |date=2007-02-02 |author= |work=BBC News]

Tens of thousands of people marched in Vicenza against the expansion of Caserma Ederle, which saw the participation of some leading radical left members. [cite web |url=|title=Italians march in US base protest|accessdate=2007-02-25 |date=2007-02-17 |author= |work=BBC News] Harsh debates followed in the Italian Senate on 20 February 2007. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Massimo D'Alema declared during an official visit in Ibiza, Spain that, without a majority on foreign policy affairs, the government would resign. The following day, D'Alema gave a speech at the Senate representing the government, clarifying his foreign policy and asking the Senate to vote for or against it. In spite of the fear of many senators that Prodi's defeat would return Silvio Berlusconi to power, the Senate did not approve a motion backing Prodi's government foreign policy, two votes shy of the required majority of 160. [cite web |url=|title=Italian PM Prodi resigns after foreign policy defeat|accessdate=2007-02-25 |date=2007-02-21 |work=CBC News]

After a Government meeting on 21 February, Romano Prodi tendered his resignation to the President Giorgio Napolitano, who cut short an official visit to Bologna in order to receive the Prime Minister. Prodi's spokesman indicated that he would only agree to form a new Government "if, and only if, he is guaranteed the full support of all the parties in the majority from now on."cite web |url= |title=Italian PM hands in resignation |accessdate=2007-02-24 |date=2007-02-21 |work=BBC News] On 22 February, centre-left coalition party leaders backed a non-negotiable list of twelve political conditions given by Prodi as conditions of his remaining in office. President Napolitano held talks with political leaders on February 23 to decide whether to confirm Prodi's Government, ask Prodi to form a new government or call fresh elections.cite web |url= |title=Italian coalition 'to back Prodi|accessdate=2007-02-24 |date=2007-02-23 |work=BBC News]

Following these talks, on 24 February, President Napolitano asked Prodi to remain in office but to submit to a vote of confidence in both houses.cite web |url= |title=Italian PM asked to resume duties |accessdate=2007-02-24 |date=2007-02-24 |work=BBC News] "I will seek a vote of confidence as soon as possible, with renewed impetus and a united and determined coalition," Prodi said after meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano. [ [ Italy's Leader Asks Premier to Stay on] . Associated Press, 25 February 2007.] On 28 February, the Senate voted to grant confidence to Prodi's Government. Though facing strong opposition from the center-right coalition, the vote resulted in a 162–157 victory. He then faced a vote of confidence in the lower house on 2 March, which he won as expected with a large majority of 342–198. []

2008 crisis

In early January, Justice Minister and Popular-UDEUR leader Clemente Mastella resigned after his wife Sandra Lonardo was put under house arrest for corruption charges. He initially announced external support for the government, only to withdraw it a few days later citing lack of solidarity from the majority parties, and declaring his party would vote against the government bills since then. With three Senators, UDEUR was instrumental to ensure a narrow centre-left majority in the Italian Senate. [cite news|url=|publisher=BBC News|title=Italy's ruling coalition weakened|date=2008-01-17|accessdate=2008-01-24] On 17 January 2008, Prodi became the Minister of Justice "ad interim".

This caused Prodi to ask for a confidence vote in both Chambers: he won a clear majority in the Chamber of Deputies on 23 January, [cite news|url=|publisher=BBC News|title=Embattled Italy PM backed by MPs|date=2008-01-23|accessdate=2008-01-24] but was defeated 156 to 161 (with 1 abstention) [] in the Senate the next day. He consequently tendered his resignation as Prime Minister to President Giorgio Napolitano, who accepted it and appointed the President of the Senate, Franco Marini, with the task of evaulating the possibility to form an interim government to implement electoral reforms prior to holding elections. Marini, after consultation with all major political forces, acknowledged the impossibility of doing so on 5 February, forcing Napolitano to announce the end of the icon cite web |url= |title=DOMANI LO SCIOGLIMENTO DELLE CAMERE |publisher=Ansa |author= |date=2008-02-05 |accessdate=2008-02-05] Prodi said that he would not seek to lead a new government. [Andrew Davis and Steve Scherer, [ "Prodi Government Near Collapse After Key Ally Defects (Update2)"] ,, January 22, 2008.] In the election that followed in April 2008, Berlusconi's right-wing coalition prevailed over the Democratic Party.

Democratic Party

On 14 October 2007, Prodi oversaw the merger of two main Italian centre-left parties, the Democrats of the Left and Daisy, creating the new Italian Democratic Party. Prodi himself led the merger of the two parties, which had been planned over a twelve year period, and became the first President of the party. He announced his resignation from that post on 16 April 2008, two days after the Democratic Party's defeat in the general election.

UN peacekeeping mission

On 12 September 2008, Prodi was named by the UN as head of a joint AU-UN panel aimed at enhancing peacekeeping operations in Africa. []


See also

*Enlargement of the European Union
*Euro launch
*European constitution
*Italian general election, 2006
*Lisbon Agenda
*Prodi Commission

External links

* [ Personal website]
* [ Democratic Party website]
* [ Official Site of the President of the European Commission] . Includes a curriculum vitae, from which some of the information in this article was drawn.

Template group
title = Romano Prodi
titlestyle = style="background:#eee;
list =

NAME = Prodi, Romano
DATE OF BIRTH = 9 August 1939
PLACE OF BIRTH = Scandiano, Italy

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