Mon, Dec 24, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Monti willing to lead Italy again

AFP, ROME

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti yesterday said he was ready to govern the country again as head of a pro-reform coalition in favor of change in Italy and Europe, but would not be a candidate in the February election.

“If one or more political forces adhere to my agenda and put forward the idea of proposing me for the post of prime minister, I would weigh the option,” he said at a news conference following his resignation on Friday.

Monti cannot officially be on the ballot for the Feb. 24 to Feb. 25 vote because he is already a senator for life, but under Italy’s electoral system, he could be asked to join the government, even as prime minister, by whoever wins.

“I am ready to give my approval, my encouragement and, if called to, my leadership” to those parties who get behind the reforms, Monti said.

Monti outlined a program to “change Italy and reform Europe,” saying that the main point was not to turn the clock back on austerity measures and reforms and thereby “destroy the sacrifices that everyone has made this year.”

A former economics professor and high-flying European commissioner, the 69-year-old urged more reforms of Italy’s “archaic” labor laws, an overhaul of the painfully slow justice system and more equal opportunities for women.

Monti also took on billionaire media tycoon and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, saying that his predecessor, who is running in his sixth election in two decades, had made proposals — including the abolition of a new property tax — that were “very dangerous and illusory.”

Monti defended his record after 13 months in government, saying Italy — battling a 2 trillion euro (US$2.64 trillion) debt mountain — had managed to extract itself from the eurozone debt crisis without resorting to an international bailout.

“The financial crisis has been overcome,” he said.

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