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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communists Say They Will Fight '98 Italian Budget

ROME -- Italy's communist leader Fausto Bertinotti on Tuesday rejected the government's fresh budget proposals despite an appeal by Prime Minister Romano Prodi not to break ranks with his administration.

Bertinotti said his Communist Refoundation Party would not vote for a controversial 1998 budget as it stood, which would leave Prodi's center-left government without a majority in the lower house of parliament.

Bertinotti made his comments less than an hour after Prodi ended a powerful address to parliament in which he appealed to the Communist Refoundation not to abandon his 17-month-old government.

In a keynote speech to the Chamber of Deputies, or lower house, Prodi said Italians would not understand why the government should now abandon its economic overhaul of the country at a time when so much progress had been achieved.

If Prodi confirms he no longer has a working majority, he may decide to tender his resignation. That would herald the end of his 17-month government and the first administration in Italy since the end of World War II to be led by the left.