Monti set to block Berlusconi comeback

2012-12-24 22:07
Mario Monti (Picture: AP)

Mario Monti (Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - Mario Monti's offer to stay on as prime minister is motivated by a wish to prevent the scandal-tainted Silvio Berlusconi from returning to power and undoing key reforms, analysts said on Monday.

"Berlusconi is the number one adversary. Monti's objective is in part a clear attempt to destroy him politically," Stefano Folli, political commentator for Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper, told AFP.

The outgoing premier, who resigned on Friday after 13 months at the head of an unelected team of technocrats to take the helm of a caretaker government, said on Sunday that he would consider leading a pro-reform coalition in elections set for 24 to 25 February - though not as a formal candidate.

He cannot officially run in the polls as he is already a senator for life, but under Italy's electoral system he can join the campaign, add his name to ballot lists and be asked to lead the country by whoever wins.

"Monti has thrown his hat into the ring because he wants to stop Berlusconi and he does not think the centre-left could get enough votes for a majority," said Roberto D'Alimonte, politics professor at the Luiss University in Rome.

While opinion polls had previously tipped former communist Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani to win, Monti's announcement could turn the election into a nail-biting three-way race.

Monti, 69, said on Sunday that he would be ready to lead those who agree with his proposals to "change Italy and reform Europe".

"He wants to be a guiding star, leading everyone up the only path for Italy" where the threat of the Eurozone debt crisis remains, said Valentino Parlato, the founder of the radical left-wing Manifesto daily.

Monti's speech on Sunday directly took on Berlusconi, who has launched his sixth election campaign in two decades and hopes to become prime minister for a fourth time.

Berlusconi on trial

The conservative media tycoon, who is appealing an October conviction for tax fraud and is currently on trial for having sex with an underage prostitute, had made proposals including the abolition of a new property tax that Monti called "very dangerous and illusory".

A Monti-backed reform coalition is likely to steal votes from both Bersani and Berlusconi, who has virulently lambasted Monti's pro-Europe austerity policies.

Franco Pavoncello, professor of politics at the John Cabot American University in Rome, called Monti's descent into the political fray "inevitable".

"It was an act of conscience, driven by serious concerns that the reforms carried out this year are at risk under a new government, and a desire to avoid the age-old campaign between Silvio Berlusconi and the centre-left," he said.

Monti's announcement was met with confusion, with Italian media lamenting his ambiguity and dubbing him a "reluctant candidate" whose unorthodox bid made no apparent effort to reach out to potential voters.

"At the end of the day, Mario Monti will be a non-candidate candidate," wrote the leading daily Corriere della Sera, adding that the former high-flying European commissioner was entering politics "in a fog where potential voters risk getting lost."

Folli said Monti had "put himself forward as a new political character, but cannot stop here. He needs to explain himself more clearly to Italians."

Election race

According to D'Alimonte, "Monti is calling on Italian moderates to follow him, with the aim of then forming a coalition with the centre-left," while Folli said that even 15 to 20% of the vote would be enough to form a pro-European alliance with the left.

Pavoncello said the issue is not whether Monti will win the race.

"No one expects Monti to win the election, but he could have a serious impact on shaping the political geography of the country, especially by cutting Berlusconi down to size," he said.

Should Monti not win, he could still be appointed to finance minister if the centre-left wins in February.

Monti, who has been endorsed by European leaders, the markets and the Roman Catholic Church, "could still be the architect of a pro-European political economy for Italy," Folli said.

Read more on:    silvio berlusconi  |  mario monti  |  italy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!

Hundreds of complaints are filed every year from victims who were scammed when buying a dog online.



WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
11 animals before and after they were adopted from shelters
Competition pet grooming – creative or too extreme?
5 Celebrities who are afraid of animals
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.