Agreement
 
Massimo D'Alema, the foregin minister, said that by agreeing to the plan the coalition partners had given Prodi "a strong mandate to continue the government's work".

Among the points on the plan agreed by the nine coalition partners late on Thursday are respect for Italy's foreign commitments, including in Afghanistan.

Prodi, who won the narrowest election in Italy's post-war history last April, clinched the deal at a late-night meeting on Thursday.

 

With the agreement under his belt, he now needs to convince President Napolitano, who has been holding talks to resolve the crisis, that he has mustered enough support to carry on as head of government.

 

Divisions

 

But analysts warned any executive led by Prodi would be just as vulnerable to the coalition bickering that brought him down on Wednesday.

 

"The policy divisions are so deep that it's hard to see why, in the medium term, a new Prodi government would be any more stable than the first, whatever the parties may say," said Susana Garcia, an analyst with Deutsche Bank.

 

"Any attempt to resuscitate the Prodi government will fail from the outset," said Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and media tycoon who could stage a return to power if snap elections were held.

   

He lost by just 24,000 votes in last year's election and opinion polls suggest his centre-right bloc would win if another was held now.