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Prodi, Romano

Prodi, Romano

Prodi, Romano, 1939-, Italian politician, premier of Italy (1996-98, 2006-8), b. Scandiano. Educated at the Catholic Univ. of Milan (grad. 1961), he is a trained economist and served (1978-79) as Italy's minister for industry; he also was a professor of economics at the Univ. of Bologna, a visiting professor at Harvard, and a researcher at the London School of Economics. An expert on European industrial policy, he twice served (1982-89, 1993-94) as chairman of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), Italy's state holding company. Prodi reentered politics in 1994 as leader of the Olive Tree Alliance, a center-left coalition that was victorious in the Apr., 1996, general elections. As premier, Prodi formed the first left-leaning Italian government since World War II. He made Italy's joining the single European currency a prime goal and won passage of budgets that significantly reduced the government deficit. From 1999 to 2004, Prodi was president of the European Commission. In 2005 he won a center-left primary to lead the opposition coalition challenge to Premier Berlusconi in 2006, and the center-left subsequently narrowly won control of parliament. Loss of a foreign policy vote in the Italian senate led Prodi to resign and re-form his government in Feb., 2007. His coalition finally collapsed in Jan., 2008, and new elections were called; Walter Veltroni, head of the Democratic party, succeeded Prodi as coalition leader, and Berlusconi's conservatives subsequently won the elections.

(born Aug. 9, 1939, Scandiano, Italy) Italian prime minister (1996–98; 2006– ) and president of the European Commission (1999–2004), one of the governing bodies of the European Union (EU). Prodi graduated from Catholic University in Milan in 1961 and did postdoctoral work at the London School of Economics. After serving as a professor of economics at the University of Bologna, he entered government as minister of industry in 1978. In 1996, after two productive stints as chairman of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (1982–89 and 1993–94), he was narrowly elected prime minister as head of the centre-left Olive Tree coalition. During his 28 months in office, Prodi privatized telecommunications and reformed the government's employment and pension policies. Budget disputes with members of his own party led to his resignation in October 1998. During his five-year term as president of the European Commission, the EU expanded beyond its western European roots to include Malta, Cyprus, and eight eastern and central European members. In 2006 Prodi again became Italy's prime minister after his centre-left coalition won the general elections.

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