Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is stepping down, the president’s office has announced, just hours after the man he replaced, Silvio Berlusconi, said he would run again for head of government.

Monti “does not think it possible to continue his mandate and consequently made clear his intention to present his resignation,” said the statement from President Giorgio Napolitano’s office yesterday.

The announcement came after Monti met with the president at the presidential palace for more than an hour.

Already Friday, Monti had held talks with parliamentary political leaders, including Angelino Alfano, of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party.

Monti would check to see if the various political parties were ready to approve the budget his government had advanced as soon as possible. But once that had been done, he would step down, said the statement.

Comments Alfano has made in parliament amounted to a declaration of no confidence in Monti’s government and its policies, the statement added.

“We believe the experience of the Monti Government is over, Alfano told parliament earlier this week. But he added that as the PDL wanted an “orderly conclusion” to the legislature, it would not try to bring down the government.

Monti’s government had in any case been due to step down in spring next year. A general election had been expected in March or April, though the precise date has not been set.

But Berlusconi’s right-wing PDL fired a shot across the government’s bows on Thursday, twice abstaining from confidence votes in the government to protest Monti’s policies.

Recent polls have suggested that the centre-left Democratic Party would win an election poll — but not with an outright majority, forcing it to seek coalition partners. The party is now led by Luigi Bersani, who was voted into the post only last weekend.

Berlusconi meanwhile said in his statement earlier yesterday that he had opened talks with former coalition allies the Northern League to try to agree on backing a single candidate.

(This article was published on December 9, 2012)
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