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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prodi's Last Stand

ROME - Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Wednesday began a last-ditch drive to keep his government from collapsing over an austerity budget designed to prepare Italy for joining the single European currency.

Prodi held talks with President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro to discuss how to keep his 17-month old government in power and preserve Italy's chances of being a founding member of the euro.

Behind the scenes talks were underway with mediators representing his coalition and the Refounded Communist Party, on which the government depends for a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, Italy's lower house of parliament.

The Communists say they will vote against the 1998 deficit-slashing budget in a move that could bring down the government. They oppose the blueprint's welfare cuts and other belt-tightening measures.