Monti tables political manifesto, comeback plan still unclear
Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti has tabled his own political manifesto, but his comeback plans are unclear as he remains reluctant to join any political force ahead of the February elections.
Over the Christmas period, Monti seemed to have entered campaigning mode. He posted a 25-page manifesto and wrote on his Twitter page: "Together, we saved Italy from disaster. Now we have to renew politics. Complaining won't help anything. Rolling up sleeves will. Let's rise to politics!"
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The "Monti agenda" contains all the arguments for his comeback as prime minister without explicitly saying it. It mentions Italy taking a more prominent role in European negotiations; the need for structural reforms; cutting back the country's crushing debt; taking on the mafia; tax evasion and promoting women to top management positions.
Centrist politicians from smaller parties and civic movements, such as Pier Ferdinando Casini from the Catholic UDC and former foreign minister Franco Frattini, have already endorsed his manifesto, possibly setting the ground for a centrist coalition running on his behalf in the early elections due in February.
Monti last weekend said he would "weigh the option" were a coalition of parties to adhere to his agenda and propose him for the top job. But he made no clear commitment prompting Italian commentators to nickname him the "hesitant candidate."
The risk for Monti is that once he is clearly affiliated with a political camp, he will only get a fraction of the vote and not enough to form a majority in the parliament.
His political foe, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has resumed attacks on Monti saying it would be "immoral" for him to stand for election after having served as an unelected premier.
Members of Berlusconi's party, the People of Freedom, have also attacked Monti's manifesto, calling it "pure propaganda."
"Monti did not save Italy, he merely reaped the merits of four year of work by Berlusconi", said Gianfranco Rotondi, a PDL deputy.
As for the Pope, who resides in the state of Vatican within the Italian capital, his Christmas message was as close as it could get to a political endorsement for Monti.
He urged people to "reflect, favour the spirit of cooperation for the common good and lead to a reflection on the hierarchy of values when making the most important of choices."
Monti does not need to run in the elections to become a prime minister again, as he has a life-long parliamentary appointment as senator.
But the fact that the former EU commissioner never stood for office posed a legitimacy problem when he took over from Berlusconi late in 2011.
A possible pact with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), poised to win the elections, may lead to Monti coming back. But only if the radical left allies are not part of the coalition, the Financial Times reports.
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democrats, has so far given a cautious response to Monti's manifesto, saying there was “nothing surprising, with some things we agree, others a bit less, and others we can discuss."