, 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.
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