From a former communist to a former communist
Late Sunday night, Prodi's coalition nominated Giorgio Napolitano, 80, a life senator with the Democrats of the Left, former speaker of the lower house and once a top official of the Italian Communist Party, as their candidate for President.
In its heyday 30 years ago, the Italian Communist Party held sway among a third of the country's voters. The party no longer exists, but its legacy lingers on, influencing the fight for the Italian presidency and the staying power of Romano Prodi.
The communists are in a position to exert considerable pressure on the political agenda of the center-left coalition. In 1998, Bertinotti brought down Prodi's first government after a tough budget was introduced to help Italy qualify for the euro. Bertinotti asserted that the budget would sabotage social programs.Exacerbating the debate now has been the election with the Refounded Communists of two controversial figures: Francesco Caruso, a leader of Italy's anti-globalization movement, and Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender gay-rights activist - whose stands in such areas as labor reform and same- sex marriage are not shared by the more moderate elements of Prodi's coalition, which includes Catholic parties.
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