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FACTBOX: Five facts about Italy's Romano Prodi

(Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will submit his centre-left government to what may be its final test by asking parliament on Tuesday for a confidence vote after the defection of an ally pushed it the brink of collapse.

Following are five facts about Prodi:

* Prodi was elected to a five-year term as prime minister in April 2006, when his centre-left coalition won the closest ballot in modern Italian history. His previous stint as PM was cut short after just over two years, running from May 1996 to October 1998, when communists deserted him over social policy.

* The 68-year-old Prodi came close to bowing out of power in February last year, when he tendered his resignation after a crushing defeat in the Senate. Far-left allies rebelled over his foreign policy, including the mission in Afghanistan. But he was restored to power in a confidence vote.

* Prodi has said he will not run again for prime minister, and helped form a new centre-left political party this year led by his expected successor, Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni.

* A law graduate who studied at the London School of Economics and taught at Harvard, the softly spoken, often mumbling Prodi is widely dubbed “the professor” in Italy.

* Between his two stints at the top of Italian politics, Prodi served a five-year term as president of the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. During his time in Brussels, the EU expanded to much of what was once communist eastern Europe and introduced the euro currency.

Editing by Keith Weir

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