The outgoing Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti, says he would be ready to lead the country again. Monti resigned on Friday, triggering a general election in the New Year. At a news conference over the weekend, he said he would be prepared to head up any new government committed to his reforms.
The unelected Mr. Monti was installed as Prime Minister a year ago. A respected professor of economics and a former senior official with the European Commission, he was drafted in to pull Italy back from the brink of financial collapse.
He succeeded. The country was stabilized and the government’s borrowing costs have fallen sharply. But in the process, Monti has made himself very unpopular with the public.
His austerity measures and reforms helped plunge Italy into recession. Unemployment has soared and Monti’s support has slumped to 15 percent. Now with an election looming, Stephen Lewis of Monument Securities says markets are getting nervous.
“International investors have put a great deal of confidence in Mr. Monti’s policies and they hope that those policies will be carried through to their conclusion,” says Lewis, “but if he goes, then there’s no assurance that will happen.”
Lewis believes Monti is on the way out and that his offer to lead any reforming government emerging from the election is likely to be rebuffed. Lewis adds that the Italians just don’t want any more austerity.