Italy's left says Monti run "morally questionable"

Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:15pm EST
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By James Mackenzie

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's main center-left party, leading polls for next year's election, criticized calls for Prime Minister Mario Monti to run for a second term, a move one of the party's leading figures said would be "morally questionable".

The Democratic Party (PD) has supported Monti's technocrat government in parliament. But, while it has pledged to continue his fiscal discipline and wants him to stay on in some role after the election, it says he should stay out of the campaign, which polls suggest he would lose anyway.

"It would be illogical and in a certain sense morally questionable if the professor were to enter the race against the main political force which supported him in his reform efforts," Massimo D'Alema, a former prime minister and an influential center-left elder statesman told Friday's daily Corriere della Sera. "I have great esteem for him and I hope he doesn't."

center-right candidate Silvio Berlusconi has offered to stand aside to allow a Monti candidacy.

European politicians from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to French President Francois Hollande also heaped praise on Monti and at a meeting of European center-right parties on Thursday, he was urged to run in the election.

Monti avoided public comments on his political future, telling a news conference in Brussels it would not be "either possible or appropriate" for him to speak on the matter. But in an interview with an online religious magazine, Monti said Italians had earned respect for their economic sacrifices.

"Italy did not derail and it will succeed", Monti told Francescan magazine

Industry Minister Corrado Passera also declined to comment on whether Monti would be a candidate in the vote, expected by February, "at least for now".   Continued...

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti arrives at a news conference after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Yves Herman