Italy PM Mario Monti Resigns
Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, has resigned, paving the way for elections in February.
6:38PM GMT 21 Dec 2012
“The government has now terminated its role, but not because of the Mayan prophecy,” he joked with staff after attending a morning mass.
In his last formal act as prime minister he spoke to Italy’sforeign ambassadors, stressing the importance of continued close economic and military collaboration with European partners and the United States.
“Since I am about to give my resignation, I want to thank you now for sharing with me these very difficult but fascinating 13 months,” he told the diplomats, who gave him a standing ovation.
Mr Monti’s resignation came after his government lost support of Silvio Berlusconi’scentre-Right People of Freedom (PDL) party earlier this month.
The billionaire media tycoon, who has mounted an intensive media campaign in the past week, in which he said Italy “needs” him, will aim to become prime minister for a fourth time in February.
Mr Berlusconi however faces stiff competition from leader of the centre-Left Democratic Party Pier Luigi Bersani, while Mr Monti is also expected to announce this Sunday whether he will throw his hat into the ring.
Mr Monti pushed through a series of austerity reforms backed by EU and business leaders – a “bitter medicine” he said must continue to lower Italy’s public debt and repair the economy. But ordinary Italians, frustrated by benefit cuts, tax hikes and unemployment, appear less convinced.
On Friday, parliamentarians closing their budget session recognised his contribution.
“Mario Monti did a lot in a short period for this country,” said centre-left MP Walter Veltroni. “To not recognise it would be intellectually dishonest.”
Fabrizio Cicchitto of the PDL said he hoped Mr Monti would choose to “aggregate all of the centre right” but warned that if he decided to go forward into elections without the PDL, he “condemns himself to defeat.”
This story originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/9761923/Mario-Monti-resigns-as-Italian-prime-minister.html