THE commitment of the new Spanish government to withdraw its troops from Iraq, unless a United Nations resolution has authorised the continuing presence of Coalition forces by 30 June, may not be the only withdrawal to take place before Iraq is finally stabilised. Although the next Italian parliamentary elections are still some way off, Signor Romano Prodi, who expects to lead the Centre Left against the incumbent Silvio Berlusconi, has said in an article in Corriere della Sera that if he came to power “it would be necessary to decide whether to continue or interrupt our participation in this war - I have no hesitation in saying our choice would be to end the intervention.” Sr Prodi's article was part of the campaigning currently taking place in Italy for the local and European elections in June but the most remarkable thing about it is that he still holds until October the position of President of the European Commission. He has said that he does not intend to seek re-election to that post and it is widely assumed that he will be invited to lead the Centre Left in Italy as he did in 1996 when he won the general election and served for two years as prime minister. It cannot be right, however, that someone who holds the most senior position in the European Commission should combine his duties in that post with party political campaigning in his own country. If, for instance, the two UK commissioners in Brussels, Neil Kinnock and Chris Patten, were to involve themselves in current British politics there would be an almighty row. Why does Signor Prodi set such a bad example and yet escape criticism for doing so?


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