Mon, Dec 10, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Italy faces vote as Monti leaves, Berlusconi returns

AFP, ROME

Italy geared up for early elections yesterday after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he would resign in the coming days and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced he would run again for the sixth time in two decades.

“I have matured the conviction that we could not continue like this any longer,” Monti was quoted as saying a day after his announcement in an interview with Ferruccio De Bortoli, editor of top daily Corriere della Sera.

Monti said he made his decision after lawmakers from Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party (PDL) withdrew their support for his government two weeks ago in a symbolic protest, saying Italy was now economically worse off than before.

Party chief Angelino Alfano told parliament that Italy’s debt, unemployment and tax rates had risen, while economic growth had plunged since Monti took over from Berlusconi in November last year.

“I felt profoundly hurt by these words,” Monti was quoted as saying in the interview.

Monti also said he had noticed the “concern” of his interlocutors with Italy’s political situation at an economic forum in Cannes, France, on Saturday.

Investors have reacted nervously after the PDL abstained from two confidence votes on Thursday, with the stock market plunging and the differential between the yields on Italian and German benchmark bonds widening.

In the latest in a series of closed-door talks held by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano with political leaders, Monti on Saturday told the president he would be stepping down as soon as parliament approves next year’s budget.

The budget is expected before the end of the year, but is only one of several items pending before Italy’s parliament that include key reforms whose future is unclear.

Elections would then have to be held within a minimum of 45 days and a maximum of 70 days, meaning a vote could come as early as February.

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