Italy: Same Political Circus, Better Economy

Italian politics is still the best show in Europe. On Oct. 9, Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned when a vital constituent in his center-left coalition, the left-wing Reconstructed Communism Party (RC), refused to back his 1998 budget. But in days, Prodi cut a deal with RC leader Fausto Bertinotti, whose rejection of the tight budget sparked such turmoil that he had to capitulate. By Oct. 16, Prodi was back in power with the budget's 25 trillion lire ($14.4 billion) in deficit cuts unscathed--and a first-round entry into Europe's single currency, the euro, all but cemented.

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