Prime Minister Mario Monti can’t run in elections due in 2013 as he already holds a permanent seat in Parliament following his appointment as senator-for-life last year, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said.
A senator-for-life “cannot be a candidate to Parliament,” Napolitano told reporters in Paris today in comments aired on state-run television Rai News 24. Asked about any political group running in the elections and proposing Monti as premier, Napolitano said that after the vote “such a hypothetical party would have to be consulted like all the others by the president of the republic who has the role of appointing the new government.”
Supporters of Monti, whose unelected government is backed by a coalition of rival parties in the Rome-based Parliament, started a political movement last week to push for a continuation of his policies. Ferrari SpA Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who heads the movement, is throwing his weight behind efforts by leading lawmakers aimed at getting Monti reappointed as premier. Both Pier Ferdinando Casini, head of the Union of Centrists, and Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of Italy’s lower house of parliament, have repeatedly said they will run on a platform of returning Monti to power.
“While the president’s words are not an impediment to any political role of Monti, it looks like he’s inviting the premier to keep a non-partisan status during the election campaign,” said Roberto D’Alimonte, a professor of politics at Luiss University in Rome. “This makes life definitely harder for Monti’s supporters as they may need to find a different leader.”
Napolitano, whose seven-year term expires in May, said today that political parties could still offer Monti a role after the vote.
“The President of Republic does not sponsor any specific solution for the government” after the elections and the next premier will be appointed following consultations between his successor and political parties, Napolitano’s office said in an e-mailed statement.
Italy’s general elections are due in April, though they will probably be held in March. Napolitano said last week he would consider holding the national ballot the same day as regional voting on March 10 if parliament completes its legislative agenda by passing the budget plan and new voting rules.
While the Senate is set to give final approval of the budget law by the end of November, parties are still divided on the overhaul of the election law. Under the current rules, known as Porcellum or pigsty, parties or coalition of parties are required to indicate the name of a candidate to be premier.
“Napolitano basically asked Monti to refrain from leading any political grouping, whereas many in Italy hoped that he could become the head of a future, broad political bloc linked to the European Popular Party,” D’Alimonte said.
Confidence in Monti as premier rose one percentage point this week to 36 percent, according to a Nov. 16 poll released by SWG, down from a peak of 71 percent shortly after he came to power a year ago.
Montezemolo’s new party would have 8.5 percent support of voters, while Casini’s UDC party and Fini’s Future and Liberty for Italy bloc would attract a combined 6.4 percent, the Trieste-based institute said. That compares with 25 percent for the leading Democratic Party and 14.8 percent for former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty.
-- With assistance from Chiara Vasarri in Rome. Editors: Andrew Davis, Andrew Atkinson