Monti's vow to quit could bring Italian elections as early as February
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.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
From rainforests and reefs to beaches and boat trips
The Silicon Valley awards which treat scientists like rockstars
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
North Korea: First Kim Jong-un orders execution of uncle - now it emerges that victim's wife was involved in decision to execute him
Humans are not smarter than animals - we just don't understand them
Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 3 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 4 Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Technica...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Risk Managemen...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus: This is a new role offering the successful can...
£250 - £300 per day: Harrington Starr: Help drive the design, utilization and ...