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Prodi sworn in as Italian new Premier
Latest Updated by 2006-05-18 15:26:51
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Italian centre-left leader Romano Prodi was sworn in as Italy's new premier on Wednesday, five weeks after his nine-party coalition narrowly beat former prime ministerSilvio Berlusconi during the general elections.

Prodi was born on Aug. 9, 1939, at Bologna. He took his postgraduate studies in economics at London School of Economics.

His early career was in academia, and culminated in his appointment as professor of industrial economy and policy at Bologna University.

His first experience in the political arena dates back to 1978, when he began a five-month stint as industry minister.

From 1982 to 1989 and again from May 1993 to May 1994 he headed Iri, a huge state industrial conglomerate.

Prodi stepped into the political limelight in 1995 when he accepted the job of leading the Olive Tree, which later evolved into the center-left Union.

In April 1996, the center-left Union won the 13th parliamentary elections, and Prodi, as the Union leader, was elected prime minister.

Prodi's first term as premier was focused on the need to bring down the Italian budget deficit so the country could qualify for monetary union.

With some tough budgets and a "tax for Europe", he succeeded. In 1997, amid general jubilation, Italy was admitted to the group of countries which later launched the euro.

But in 1998, Prodi's government fell after a small external ally, the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), withdrew its support. He lost a confidence vote by a single vote.

However, partly as a result of his achievement in steering Italy into the euro, he had gained enough international clout to carry him into the job of European Commission president in 1999.

After an eventful six years in Brussels, which included overseeing the EU's expansion eastward and the introduction of the euro, Prodi returned to national politics in 2005.

He subsequently consolidated his position as leader of the fractious centre-left alliance with a landslide victory in unprecedented the primary-style elections last October.

Prodi won the narrowest of victories against former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in the April 9 and 10 general election with a margin of just 24,755 votes in the Lower House.

Prodi says his administration can last the course and provide strong, effective government.

But critics have expressed concern over the alliance, which ranges from Communists and anti-clericalists to staunch Catholics, saying it is too disparate.

A Catholic and a moderate, the bespectacled, round-faced, softly-spoken leader earned the nickname The Professor in political circles, because of his 25-year past as an economics lecturer.

Prodi is married with two children and recently became a grandfather.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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