So if it's business as usual, why did Italy go through the trauma of trashing Prodi two weeks ago? "Because Italian politics isn't logical," says Burke. "Once again, you've got a very fragile government composed of nine parties, ranging from Communists to the center-right, each of them able to hold D'Alema hostage." In other words, don't bet that the 56th government in 53 years will restore Italy's one-government-per-year average.
Italy's gone communist! Back in the domino-theory days of the Cold War, heads would be rolling at the CIA; instead, there was nary a raised eyebrow in Washington Thursday as reconstructed communist Massimo D'Alema made his maiden speech as prime minister. And that's not only because he's committed to a "caring capitalism" rather than any kind of socialism. "This government will pursue exactly the same economic policies as its predecessor," says TIME's Rome correspondent Greg Burke. "They're going to submit the same budget that brought down Romano Prodi, and this time it'll sail through."