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economic austerity

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti is to lead a coalition of centre parties going into Italy’s parliamentary election in February.

Speaking to reporters after four hours of talks with centrist politicians, he said he was willing to be “named leader of the coalition”.

Mario Monti resigned after 13 months as prime minister when predecessor Silvio Berlusconi withdrew his support.

The Vatican newspaper backs Mario Monti’s bid to return as prime minister.

Mario Monti clearly threw his hat into the political ring at a news conference on Friday evening.

“A new political formation has been born,” Mario Monti said.

A single reform list, grouping together centrist parties, would stand for election to the Senate under the provisional title “Monti’s agenda for Italy”, he said.

But in the lower house, the chamber of deputies, there would be a coalition of centrist parties, including the Christian Democrat UDC.

As senator for life, Mario Monti cannot stand for election, but he is able to take part in the campaign and could return to the post of prime minister if a centrist coalition were successful.

He was brought in to form a technocratic government last year after the government of Silvio Berlusconi collapsed under pressure from the financial markets.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti is to lead a coalition of centre parties going into Italy's parliamentary election in February

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti is to lead a coalition of centre parties going into Italy’s parliamentary election in February

Mario Monti, a former economics professor and European Union Commissioner, was chosen to impose financial rigor on the economy.

In power, he made some progress early on, including raising the retirement age and structural reforms.

But later policies were watered down and Silvio Berlusconi and his centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party increasingly attacked Mario Monti’s economic austerity.

Mario Monti has described his 13 months in office as “difficult but fascinating”.

“The work we did… has made the country more trustworthy… more competitive and attractive to foreign investors,” he said.

However, ordinary Italians have been hard hit by the combination of tax rises and spending cuts Mario Monti has imposed to repair Italy’s public finances and it is uncertain how well he will fare in the election on 24-25 February 2013.

The left-wing Democratic Party is currently leading the opinion polls, while Silvio Berlusconi will lead the challenge from the right as head of his PDL party.

Mario Monti was optimistic that the electorate will stick with him. He told an impromptu news conference that he expected his supporters could win a “significant result” in the election.