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 (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 Commissionmarker from 1999 to 2004.

Prodi ran in 1996 as The Olive Tree candidate, winning the general election and serving as Prime Minister of Italy until 1998. Following the victory of his coalition The Union (L'Unione) over the House of Freedoms (Casa delle Libertà) led by Silvio Berlusconi in the April 2006 Italian elections Prodi 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 Democratic Party upon foundation of the party.

On 12 September 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon selected Prodi as president of African Union-UN peacekeeping panel. On 6 February 2009, he was appointed Professor-at-Large at the Watson Institute for International Studies of Brown Universitymarker.


Prodi was born in Scandianomarker, 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. They have two sons, Giorgio and Antonio. He and his family still live in Bolognamarker.

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 Economicsmarker.

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 Bolognamarker, 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 Universitymarker 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.



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 Bolognamarker 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 Democracy party, contacted from beyond the grave via a séance and a Ouija board. Whilst during this supposed séance Prodi thought the word Gradolimarker 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 Commissionmarker 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..

This issue came back again in 2005, when Prodi was accused of being "a KGB man" by Mario Scaramella. The same accusation was raised in the 1990s by the 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 coalition The Olive Tree, and as its main leader he defeated Silvio Berlusconi and his centre-right 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. Prodi's programme 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 the Italian republic 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-democratic European People's Party and social-democratic Party of European Socialists 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. This commission (the 10th) saw in increase in power and influence following Amsterdam Treaty. Some in the media described President Prodi as being the first "Prime Minister of the European Union". 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. As well as the enlargement and Amsterdam Treaty, the Prodi Commission also saw the signing and enforcement of the Nice Treaty as well as the conclusion and signing of the European Constitution: in which he introduced the "Convention method" of negotiation. 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 (2006-2008)

Shortly before the end of his term as President of the European Commission, Prodi returned to national Italian politics at the helm of the enlarged 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 10 April. 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 16 May 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 Bankmarker 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 18 May, Prodi laid out some sense of his new foreign policy when he pledged to withdraw Italian troops from Iraqmarker and called the Iraq war a "grave mistake that has not solved but increased the problem of security".

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 ideology like the Party of Italian Communists and Communist Refoundation Party together with parties of Catholic inspiration, like Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy and UDEUR Populars, the latter led by Clemente Mastella, former chairman of Christian Democracy. 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 Afghanistanmarker). In his earlier months as PM, Prodi had a key role in the creation of a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanonmarker following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

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 Ederlemarker 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 UDEUR Populars, said he would rather see the government fall than support its unwed couples legislation.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Vicenzamarker against the expansion of Caserma Ederle, which saw the participation of some leading radical left members. 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 Ibizamarker, 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.

After a Government meeting on 21 February, Romano Prodi tendered his resignation to the President Giorgio Napolitano, who cut short an official visit to Bolognamarker 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." 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 23 February to decide whether to confirm Prodi's Government, ask Prodi to form a new government or call fresh elections.

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. "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. 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 and resignation

In early January 2008, Justice Minister and UDEUR Populars 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. 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, 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 legislature. Prodi said that he would not seek to lead a new government. In the election that followed in April 2008, Berlusconi's right-wing coalition prevailed over the Democratic Party.

After politics


On March 19, 2008, during the political campaign for the snap general election, Romano Prodi stated "I called it a day with Italian politics and maybe with politics in general.".

Democratic Party

On 14 October 2007, Prodi oversaw the merger of two main Italian centre-left parties, the Democrats of the Left and Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy, creating the new 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.


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. Biography of Romano Prodi (in Italian)
  5. Prodi to Have Wide, New Powers as Head of the European Commission 16/04/1999
  6. Commentary: Romano Prodi: Europe's First Prime Minister? (int'l edition) 1999
  7. Italy's Leader Asks Premier to Stay on. Associated Press, 25 February 2007.
  10. Andrew Davis and Steve Scherer, "Prodi Government Near Collapse After Key Ally Defects (Update2)",, 22 January 2008.

See also

External links

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