Anyone but Silvio Berlusconi: Italy begs unelected Mario Monti to stay

Spectre of former PM is boosting popularity of leader parachuted in by European Union


Two political leaders have joined calls for Italy's unelected technocrat Prime Minister, Mario Monti, to stay on in some form after next spring's general election to prevent speculators dragging the Italian economy – and the euro – back to the edge of the abyss.

The realisation that Mr Monti's stabilising stop-gap government has just six months left has been causing alarm bordering on panic among business leaders and even some of the politicians who stand to replace him. His unelected regime was rushed into place in November 2011 with Italy's finances on the precipice – a crisis that forced the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister.

Since then a range of austerity measures, tax rises and structural reforms have improved Italy's economic outlook and calmed the markets. But a series of on-the-hoof remarks from Mr Berlusconi calling into question the desirability of euro-membership have also reminded Italy what might lie in wait if or when Mr Monti departs. Although Mr Berlusconi has not yet officially declared that he will stand, he is widely believed to still harbour political ambitions.

In the past few days captains of industry have reacted with undisguised delight to comments from Mr Monti that he would be willing to stay on as premier if no clear political winner emerged from the ballot box. The chief executive of Fiat cars, Sergio Marchionne, said that a second Monti government "would be a step forward for the country. It would give credibility and eliminate much uncertainty".

The employers' organisation Confindustria said that if he had the support of a hung parliament there was no reason why Mr Monti should not continue in government. "With the legitimacy of the vote, it would be perfectly fine for me," Giorgio Squinzi, the Confindustria chief, told Ansa news agency when asked about a second Monti-led government.

On Sunday, the leaders of two small political parties – Gianfranco Fini, who split with Mr Berlusconi in 2010 to head his own small party, and Pier Ferdinando Casini, leader of a small centrist party – said they would also support Mr Monti remaining at the helm. "It's looking increasingly likely that somehow or other Monti will stay on," said Professor James Watson, a political pundit at the American University in Rome. He speculated that Mr Monti could even become the powerful Finance Minister in a coalition headed by the Democratic Party – which appears likely to emerge as the single biggest grouping in the lower house after the election.

Mr Monti sought to calm speculation while visiting the International Co-operation Forum in Milan yesterday, saying he hoped "to leave the government of the country to other people".

But another pundit, Sergio Fabbrini, director of the Luiss School of Government in Rome, said that Mr Monti's Economic Development Minister, Corrado Passera, might be given the pivotal economics portfolio in a coalition government after the next election, while Mr Monti became the President. He said that the role of head of state had expanded in recent years to become that of unofficial advocate of EU-Italian affairs. And he added that a Passera-Monti combination would send a "powerful signal" to the markets. Professor Fabbrini told The Independent: "I would bet that in six months' time we will see Mario Monti continue in his role as part of the ruling elite of this country, whether it's as President of the Republic or Prime Minister."

Not everyone, however, welcomed the prospect of Mr Monti extending his time in government. Susanna Camusso, leader of the big left-wing CGIL union that has clashed with the Monti government over labour reform, said a second Monti term "would be a message of resignation, not a prospect for change".

But the mainstream political parties remain in a fractious state of disarray, and so far have had little choice but to support the Monti regime.

This bizarre state of affairs was underlined at the weekend when the centre-left Democratic Party, which stands to win the next election under Italy's flawed proportional representation system, signalled its continuing support for Mr Monti, an unelected, free-market economics professor.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant - Oxford

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: As a successful and growing Security Installat...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Agent - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides specialis...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation and Support Consultant

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A consultant is required to pro...

Recruitment Genius: Office Assistant

£12675 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn