Italy’s Monti Says Ready to Lead, But Won’t Run in Election

Posted December 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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Italy's caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti says he would consider an offer to govern the country again but will not stand as a candidate in the February elections.

Mr. Monti told a news conference Sunday that if one or more political forces were backing his agenda and asked him to be premier, then he would consider it.

He rejected calls from centrist groups to run in the election, saying he has no sympathy for “personal” parties.

Mr. Monti announced his resignation on Friday after Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party withdrew its support from the government, triggering early elections. Mr. Monti is heading an interim government until the vote.

Mr. Monti is an economist and former European commissioner who took over Italy's government in November of last year. He and his Cabinet have implemented economic austerity measures in the form of spending cuts and tax hikes, with the aim of making Italy “more trustworthy” and attractive to foreign investors.

Mr. Berlusconi, who has been Italy's prime minister three times, says he intends to campaign on an anti-austerity platform, cut taxes and create jobs. His party has accused the Monti government of applying policies that “were too German-centric.”

Public-opinion polls show Mr. Berlusconi trailing a center-left alliance, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, that broadly supports Mr. Monti's economic program, but also promises to ease the economic pressure facing the poorest members of society.