Italy's Monti says would consider standing at election

Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:12am EST
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By Gavin Jones

ROME (Reuters) - Italian caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday he would be ready to run for a second term in next year's election if he was asked to do so by political forces that adopted his reform agenda.

The former European commissioner, appointed to lead an unelected government to save Italy from financial crisis a year ago, resigned on Friday but has faced growing calls to seek a second term at the election on February 24-25.

Speaking at a year-end news conference, Monti stressed he was not now entering any political movement and that he was more concerned about his policy prescriptions being followed than personalities standing in the election.

Nonetheless, he said that if a political force or coalition offered a credible program that he supported, "I would be ready to offer my encouragement, advice and if necessary leadership."

Asked if that meant he was ready to stand as prime minister again he said: "If a credible political force asked me to run as prime minister for them I would consider it."

Both Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party and Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) have urged him not to stand in the election. The PD holds a substantial lead in opinion polls.

However, Monti rejected suggestions that he was motivated by personal ambition to win political power.

"If I accept, it's to try to change the moral culture of the country. It's obvious it's not for my personal convenience," he said.   Continued...

Italian caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti gestures during an end of the year news conference in Rome December 23, 2012. Monti said on Sunday that he would be ready to offer his leadership to political forces that adopt his agenda of reforms the country needs. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi