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
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
Life and Style

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

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

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor