ITALY'S SECOND REPUBLIC 2006 TO 2008
Romano Prodi, with a center-left coalition (The Union), won the April 2006 general election by a very narrow margin due to Calderoli new electoral law, although Silvio Berlusconi first refused to acknowledge defeat. Prodi's coalition proved to be extremely frail, as the two-vote margin in the Senate allowed almost any party in the coalition to veto legislation and political views inside the coalition spanned from far-left Communist parties to Christian Democrats. soldier on guard duty in Lebanon]] In foreign policy, the Prodi II Cabinet continued the engagement in Afghanistan, under UN command, while withdrawing troops from post-invasion Iraq. The major effort of foreign minister Massimo D'Alema concerned the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War, being the first to offer troops to the UN for the constitution of the UNIFIL force, and assuming its command in February 2007.
Less than a year after he had won the elections, on 21 February 2007, Prodi tendered his resignation to Head of State Giorgio Napolitano after the government was defeated in the Senate by 2 ballots in a vote on foreign policy. On 24 February, President Napolitano invited him to return to office and face a vote of confidence. Major causes of friction inside the coalition were, the 2006 pardon Act (criticised by the right and by the IDV party), a draft bill to establish civil unions (vetoed by Christian Democrats), Italy's continued involvement in Afghanistan (strongly opposed by left-wing parties), and finally the much publicized house-arrest of Clemente Mastella's wife (then a prominent politician at the regional level) over a corruption scandal. Mastella's party, UDEUR, held just enough seats in the Senate that his eventual decision to withdraw its support for the government meant the end of the legislature on February 6, 2008. Mastella, who also resigned from his office as Minister of Justice, cited the lack of personal support from his coalition partners' as one the reasons behind his decision, BBC, 16 January 2008 Italian justice minister resigns together with a proposed reform of the electoral system which would have made it difficult for small parties like his own to gain seats in the Italian Parliament.