Mario Monti has resigned as Prime Minster of Italy, saying he no longer has the support he needs to govern. Monti replaced Silvio Berlusconi a little over a year ago after the previous govt proved unable to cope with the financial problems facing it.
His resignation comes as MP’s passed the 2013 budget drawn up by his government with 309 votes in favor and 55 against.
Monti is widely credited with overseeing a recovery in Italy’s bonds and has repaired the country’s tattered image abroad. His leadership has also been praised by Angela Merkel and other European leaders such as Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the group of euro-Asia finance minsters.
But he is unpopular with many Italians who have been left with soaring unemployment, a shrinking economy and higher taxes. A poll conducted on November 17th showed that 62% of Italians had a negative view of Monti’s government while 82% said they had little confidence in the economy improving.
Mr. Monti has fiercely defended his program of tight budgetary discipline. He told workers at a Fiat factory on Thursday that it would be “irresponsible to waste all the sacrifices that Italians had made”.
The technocrat is expected to announce his political plans at a press conference on December 23rd. He may announce whether he will join a group of centrist political parties who want him to run on a continued platform of economic reforms for the Eurozone’s third biggest economy.
“Although Mr. Monti has not yet thrown his hat into the ring, he has given plenty of indicators that he is preparing to run for office as head of a centrist alliance,” Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, told Bloomberg.
The former European commissioner cannot stand for election himself but he could return as a minister or as an unofficial leader of a centrist coalition.
Mr. Berlusconi’s conservative People of Freedom Party (PDL) withdrew its support for Monti’s cabinet earlier this month. Mr. Berlusconi has said he’d step aside and endorse Monti if he led a coalition with the PDL but not the Democratic Party.
A date has not yet been set for the ballot, but most analysts believe it will be on the 24th February.
Most polls indicate that the Democratic Party would win about 30% of the vote, while Berlusconi’s PDL is trailing in third with between 15 and 20%. A protest group led by former comedian Beppe Grillo is in second place with 20%.