Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti will meet President Giorgio Napolitano today as the head of state mediates a parliamentary dispute on when to dissolve the government and call elections.
Monti’s government, which loses its mandate in April, is facing an early collapse after the People of Liberty party, Monti’s biggest backer in parliament, said this week it was seeking an orderly end to the emergency administration. Former Italian Prime Minister and leader of the People of Liberty Silvio Berlusconi, 76, will stand in the election, news service Ansa said today.
Napolitano will take “constructive and appropriate steps” to respect the will of lawmakers and protect Italy’s international image, the president’s office said late yesterday in a statement. Napolitano and Monti will discuss “all of the implications,” according to the statement.
Monti is losing control as the rival parties in his coalition seek to distance themselves from his record of tax increases and budget cuts. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported elections may be called for March 10, while daily Repubblica said Italy’s Democratic Party, or PD, was pushing for a vote on Feb. 24.
Monti, an unelected technocrat, became prime minister 13 months ago with an emergency mandate to implement an austerity program and shield Italy from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. While he succeeded in slashing government borrowing costs, the budget rigor deepened the recession. As the election nears, People of Liberty and PD, Monti’s second biggest supporter, are blaming each other for the economic slump.
People of Liberty voted for Monti’s policies in the last year out of a sense of duty and not because it agreed with them, party General Secretary Angelino Alfano said yesterday. PD, which has reiterated its backing for Monti, is pressing Napolitano for a February vote because it is concerned People of Liberty will gain support among the electorate as it disowns responsibility for Monti’s agenda, Repubblica said.
Monti told reporters before a speech in Cannes today that populism in Europe was a threat to be taken into consideration. Europe must “remain vigilant against all forms of nationalism and populism,” he said.
People of Liberty will support Monti’s budget law while making no promises about other bills pending in parliament, according to the statement from the president.
“The experience of Monti’s government has concluded in our estimation,” Alfano told parliament yesterday.
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