After keeping Italians, and the rest of Europe, in suspense for weeks, caretaker premier Mario Monti yesterday ruled out running in February’s elections but said he would consider leading the next government if political forces sharing his reform-focused economic agenda requested it. The decision positions Mr Monti to take the helm again without having to get involved directly in campaigning – preserving his image as someone above the political fray who can make tough decisions imposing austerity measures.
Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-tainted ex-premier, hit out at Mr Monti again yesterday. “I had a nightmare – still a government with Monti,” the media mogul said. He has said in the past that he would run again if Mr Monti did not, but made no commitment yesterday about his own political future.
Mr Monti, who after his resignation on Friday is continuing in a caretaker role in charge of a non-elected government tasked with rescuing Italy’s economy, ruled out heading any ticket – including the centre-right grouping that Mr Berlusconi said he would be willing to back. But the 69-year-old economist made it clear he was willing to take another term in power.
“If one or more political forces is credibly backing [my] agenda, or even has a better one, I’d evaluate the offer,” Mr Monti said.
“To those forces who demonstrate convincing and credible adherence to the Monti agenda, I am ready to give my appreciation, encouragement, and if requested, leadership, and I am ready to assume, one day, if the circumstances require it, the responsibility that would be entrusted to me by parliament.”
Mr Monti added: “I have no sympathy for ‘personal’ parties.”