Monti Says He Would Consider Second Term as Prime Minister

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Erik Schatzker sits down for a one-on-one interview with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. They speak on Bloomberg Television's "Bottom Line." (Source: Bloomberg)

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, whose term at the head of an unelected government expires in April, said he would be willing to stay on.

“Should there be a special circumstance, which I hope will not be, were I to be asked, I would consider,” Monti said today in a public discussion organized by the Council of Foreign Relations in New York. “I will be there, I will consider, I cannot preclude anything.”

Monti’s availability to extend his leadership marks a departure from previous statements in which he downplayed the possibility of a second term. The experience of a caretaker government, he said on Sept. 10, “is definitely episodic, transitory and limited in time.” Italian bonds yields fell after Monti’s comments.

“We think that Monti wants to buy some insurance against the possibility market tensions intensify very significantly again,” said Silvio Peruzzo, European economist at Nomura International Plc. “He won’t likely run for prime minister but he would stand ready to get appointed by political parties should that be required by market conditions and political stalemate.”

Monti also said he wouldn’t run in the elections as he is already a member of parliament, though he’d consider staying on after the vote should he be asked to serve.

Divided Parliament

“We would need to see a hung parliament and, or, Italy under serious market pressure” for Monti to be offered a second term, said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at Eurasia Group in New York. “Otherwise, a second Monti term remains unlikely.”

Italian 10-year bond yields declined 9 basis points to 5.12 percent in Rome. That’s 7 basis points lower than the yield before Monti made his remarks.

Monti’s approval rating rose 1 percentage point to 52 percent of voters this month, according to a Sept. 17 poll by IPR Marketing. That compares with a low of 46 percent in June and a high of 59 percent in February. An eventual second Monti term was backed by 81 percent of investors and business leaders, including at least 40 chief executive officers, who took part in a Sole 24 Ore Radiocor survey this month.

“Monti’s agenda has to go on as it’s just at the beginning,” Italian Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mario Baldassarri said by phone. “It has to do it with Monti, so ideally the next government should be led by him, but with stronger and clear-cut political support.”

Rivalry Renewing

Italy’s two biggest political parties, which agreed in November to support Monti’s administration, are resuming their rivalry as the country prepares for elections. The Democratic Party, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party, are vying to win enough votes to form a government led by politicians.

Monti, a former university president and European Union commissioner, is a senator for life.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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