Italy's Monti to lead reform-minded coalition

Prime minister announces he will lead new campaign bloc made of up centrists, business leaders and pro-Vatican forces.

    Italian Premier Mario Monti has announced he is heading a new campaign coalition made of up centrists, business leaders and pro-Vatican forces who back his "ethical" vision of politics, paving the way for him to possibly secure a second term if his alliance wins big in parliamentary elections.

    After a four-hour huddle with supporters on Friday, Monti stopped short of saying he is running as a candidate for the premiership, but said the February 24-25 ballot list would carry the banner `'Monti Agenda for Italy'' or something similar.

    "'A new political formation is born,'' Monti declared.

    The announcement clarifies Monti's involvement in the vote, after he said on Sunday that he may be willing to seek a second term if a credible political force backed his reform agenda.

    The former European Commissioner, appointed at the head of a technocrat government last year to save Italy from financial crisis, said he was willing to accept "being named as leader of the coalition".

    Monti, whose status as senator for life means he does not have to run for a seat in parliament himself, said the grouping could win a "significant result" in the election.

    The announcement clears up some of the uncertainty hanging over the election and puts Monti at the centre of a three-way contest for power with the centre-left Democratic Party, which is leading in the polls and Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party.

    One opinion poll published since the weekend estimated that a centrist coalition led by Monti could hope to gain between 11 and 15 percent of the vote.

    The 69-year-old economic professor has been widely credited for restoring Italy's international credibility after the
    scandal-plagued Berlusconi years.

    However, ordinary Italians have become increasingly tired of the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts he has imposed to repair Italy's battered public finances.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.