Image: Prodi
Paolo Ferrari  /  AP
Italian center-left leader Romano Prodi, right, smiles as he leaves his home in Bologna to visit relatives on Sunday. At left is one of Prod's aides.
updated 4/23/2006 11:19:50 PM ET 2006-04-24T03:19:50

The coalition of Italy’s incoming prime minister was already showing signs of fraying Sunday, with the head of a tiny party saying he would stay out of the government.

It could be a Herculean task for Romano Prodi to hold together a coalition that includes mainstream leftists, communists, Catholics and secular radicals.

The center-left Prodi, however, vowed to govern for a full, five-year parliamentary term.

“We will stay united, and we will stay so for five years,” Prodi told reporters outside his home in Bologna.

An appeals court officially confirmed Prodi’s electoral victory on Saturday when it certified his narrow, two-seat Senate majority.

Outgoing prime minister Silvio Berlusconi still refused to concede, however, promising through his attorney to exhaust all challenges to the results.

Prodi shrugged off Berlusconi’s refusal to concede defeat.

“That’s not my problem. It is his,” he told reporters Sunday.

Also dissatisfied with Prodi is the leader of a tiny group of Christian Democrats, Clemente Mastella, who said in an interview published Sunday in Rome daily Il Messaggero that he would “give only outside support with this government, with which I have nothing to share.”

Hinting that he wasn’t offered a sufficiently prestigious ministry, Mastella complained to Il Messaggero that his party did not receive the proper recognition for bringing valuable votes to Prodi, who won with a razor-thin margin in the lower Chamber of Deputies.

Asked whether Prodi’s coalition could last, Mastella was quoted as saying that without “significant” moves to keep allies happy “the end will arrive before the beginning.”

Some of Berlusconi’s closest international allies, including President Bush, have called to congratulate Prodi in recent days. Prodi’s office said that Russian President Vladimir Putin called Saturday to express the conviction that Italy and Russia will work closely together.

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