Italy's Monti unveils alliance, rules out minister role

Fri Jan 4, 2013 5:41pm EST
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By Catherine Hornby

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Friday unveiled the alliance he will lead into February's parliamentary election and said he was unlikely to agree to serve as a minister in another premier's cabinet after the vote.

The 69-year-old former European commissioner, who replaced Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister in November 2011 when Italy was scrambling to avert a financial crisis, announced last week that he would run for a second term.

Monti said on Friday the grouping would be called "With Monti for Italy", whose logo is a circular symbol with the colors of the Italian flag and his surname in the center.

"I hope that (the new alliance) helps improve politics, and that it renews the interest of those Italians who had turned their back on politics, involving them actively again in public affairs," Monti said.

Opinion surveys have shown that up to 50 percent of the electorate plan to abstain or are undecided in the February 24-25 election that is a three-way battle between rightist Berlusconi, Monti and center-left frontrunner Pier Luigi Bersani.

Focusing the campaign strongly around Monti could be a risky tactic, with his popularity dented by the tough tax hikes and spending cuts he has introduced over the past 13 months. Roughly 60 percent of Italians are against the idea of him standing for a second term, polls show.

A poll by the Tecne research institute released on SkyTG24 on Friday showed that Monti's grouping would likely attract slightly more than 12 percent of the vote.

That compares with 40 percent for his rivals on the left, Bersani's Democratic Party (PD) and its coalition ally Left, Ecology, Freedom; and 25 percent for the most likely center-right coalition of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) and the Northern League, the poll showed.   Continued...

Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti unveils the symbol of his party reading "Civil choice with Monty for Italy" during a news conference in Rome January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi (ITALY - Tags: POLITICS)