ROME – Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced Friday he is heading a new campaign coalition made of up centrists, business leaders and pro-Vatican forces who back his “ethical” vision of politics, aiming for a second mandate in office if his fledging reform movement wins big in parliamentary elections.
After a four-hour huddle with his supporters, Monti ended weeks of speculation at home and abroad about whether the internationally respected economist, who was appointed to head a non-elected government a year ago, would seek a new term, this time given to him by the voters.
He told a hastily convened news conference that the Feb. 24-25 ballot list would carry the banner “Monti Agenda for Italy” or a similar slogan, even if the ballot wouldn’t list him per se as a candidate. “A new political formation is born,” declared Monti, who, as a senator-for-life doesn’t have to run for a parliamentary seat.
Monti was appointed premier 13 months ago after his scandal-plagued predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, failed to stop Italy from sliding deeper into the eurozone debt crisis. He quit earlier this month after Berlusconi pulled his party’s support from Monti’s government, but is now continuing in a caretaker role until the next elections.