MARIO Monti shook the Italian political landscape this weekend, when he announced that he would resign as Prime Minister once the 2013 budget was passed, potentially bringing forward next year’s Italian election and leaving in question many of his unfinished reforms.
Monti announced his intention to resign on Saturday, after losing the support of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party.
Monti’s appointment to the role of Prime Minister as an unelected technocrat made him a controversial figure, and while imposing austerity measures mandated by the European Central Bank (ECB) has been made easier by his ability to disregard citizens’ anxieties, his lack of accountability has also helped inflame popular discontent.
Former premier Berlusconi, known for his anti-euro rhetoric, said he would run for the top job for the fifth time, and started running a campaign fiercely critical of Monti’s attempts to bring the Italian budget close to balancing via austerity.
But Berlusconi’s PdL party trails the main centre-left opposition, the Democratic Party (PD) by 16 percentage points in polls from last week, even polling worse than the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, led by a comedian.
Monti slammed “populism” in his press conference, saying it was only a means to winning votes, though he refrained from pointing the finger at Berlusconi directly. He said he wouldn’t campaign in any elections, but would accept his former position as an apolitical Prime Minister.