Italians see instability after election, lose faith in Monti
By Barry Moody
ROME (Reuters) - Only one in seven Italians believe a stable government will emerge from elections next month and outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti's popularity has dropped to a new low since his entry into the race, an opinion poll said on Friday.
Renewed instability and legislative paralysis after more than a year of technocratic government under Monti could make Italy once again the biggest concern in the euro zone.
The poll by the SWG company, six weeks before the February 24-25 election, showed the center-left still far ahead, about 10 points in front of Silvio Berlusconi's center-right.
It also showed that established parties had succeeded both in reducing the number of undecided voters or those who plan to abstain and in eroding support for the populist 5-Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo.
The balance of forces is broadly in line with other opinion polls although SWG has the center-left on nearly 35 percent, while other pollsters put them close to 40.
Monti's entry into the race just after Christmas at the head of a centrist grouping and Berlusconi's frenetic campaigning in a barrage of television appearances appear to be behind the movement of voters back to mainstream parties.
The poll showed undecided voters and those planning to abstain at 33.5 percent after nearly 50 percent on December 21.
With a center-left victory seen as almost certain, Monti and Berlusconi are attacking each other most aggressively, intent on winning the balance of power in the Senate where the result is still highly uncertain. Continued...