Monti's vow to quit could bring Italian elections as early as February

 

Milan

Italy and Europe were tonight bracing themselves for a general election and the real possibility that the scandal-plagued billionaire Silvio Berlusconi could become prime minister for a fourth time.

The premier Mario Monti announced on Saturday he would step down as soon as parliament had approved next year's budget. By on Sunday evening pundits were suggesting the poll could be as early as mid-February if parliament passed the finance bill by the end of this year.

Mr Monti's move followed the decision by Mr Berlusconi's PDL (People of Freedom) Party to withdraw its support from the unelected technocrat administration, which was put in place a year ago after scandals and the debt crisis forced Mr Berlusconi out of office. "I came to the conclusion we could not continue like this any longer," Mr Monti told the Corriere della Sera. His government had a mandate until April.

The markets had already reacted nervously to the suggestion Mr Monti's stint as prime minister would end early, when the PDL withdrew its support on Thursday. Further share price falls and dramatic rises in Italy's borrowing costs were expected tomorrow morning. For several months Mr Berlusconi, 76, has been stepping up attacks on the Monti government, saying it has failed to create economic growth.

The final straw for the notoriously egotistical Mr Berlusconi appeared to be comments by Mr Monti's Economic Development Minister, Corrado Passera, that re-electing the tycoon would be a step backwards.

"I am running to win," Mr Berlusconi said, even though the polls suggest that the mogul and his divided party will be thrashed by the recently reinvigorated centre-left Democratic Party. Italy's left has demonstrated many times, however, its ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Mr Berlusconi, who was convicted of tax fraud in October, has motives other than pride for running again. The media tycoon is fearful that his already tarnished record will be stained with sex and abuse of office convictions in the Rubygate trial, a verdict in which is expected in the next two or three months. As Prime Minister, he would be better placed to impede the legal process.

Last night some political analysts suggested Mr Monti's decision could also be a way for him to follow his own political ambitions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable