European government chiefs urged unelected Italian Premier Mario Monti to shed his mantle as an independent and campaign for a second term.
“I hope that Mr. Monti has a future in the Italian or European politics,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said at a press conference in Brussels after a two-day summit. “He will take initiatives in the coming days that I don’t want to elaborate on now.”
The remarks came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande praised Monti as his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, traveled to Brussels to attend a meeting of political-party leaders.
The chorus of EU support adds to pressure at home for Monti, 69, to declare his candidacy for elections to be held as soon as February. While Monti’s tax increases and spending cuts have won praise from business leaders and investors, they have deepened the nation’s fourth recession since 2001.
Monti is not likely to reveal his hand until after he resigns as head of a 13-month-old appointed government. The premier has said he will step down as soon as his budget is passed by parliament this week.
“I don’t think it’s either possible or opportune to speak about choices Italian voters will make,” Monti said today.
Monti was showered with praise yesterday by the leaders of Europe’s conservative parties in Brussels, where he made a surprise appearance after Berlusconi decided to attend. The European People’s Party, which hosted the gathering, called on Monti to run.
“If EPP has invited Mario Monti to its summit, it’s certainly a signal that they would like him also to run,” Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, an EPP member, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday.