Monti says Merkel doesn't want left to win Italy election

Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:00pm EST
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ROME (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not want the center-left Democratic Party (PD) to win Italy's national election, outgoing Italian Prime Minister and centrist leader Mario Monti said on Wednesday.

"Merkel fears the consolidation of parties from the left, especially in an election year for her, I don't think she has any wish to see the PD arrive in government," Monti said in an interview with Italian news agency Adnkronos.

His remarks were confirmed by his spokeswoman, who added that he was expressing his opinion and was not claiming to have spoken to Merkel directly on the matter.

They could nevertheless be embarrassing for the German chancellor who has been at pains to stay out of the campaign for Italy's vote this weekend.

Monti was responding to comments by center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, who has repeatedly attacked the German Chancellor and claimed Monti had already agreed to join forces with the PD after the election "with Merkel's blessing".

Polls suggest the PD is likely to win control of the lower house in the February 24-25 vote. Monti's centrist alliance is trailing in fourth place, but the PD may need its support to control the upper house of parliament and form a government.

Merkel has been keeping her lips sealed before the vote but in an unusual foray into an election campaign in a European neighbor, her foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, recently dropped a thinly veiled hint about sentiment in her government.

"We are of course not involved in the Italian election ... But whoever forms the new government, we think it is important that the pro-European course and the necessary reforms will be continued," Westerwelle told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Westerwelle is a member of the pro-market Free Democrats (FDP), junior partner in Merkel's center-right coalition.   Continued...

Italy's outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti speaks during a meeting in Rome February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile