Monti Not Seeking Presidency as Ally Questions Bersani’s Chances

Prime Minister Mario Monti said he is not seeking Italy’s presidency as his decision to try for a second term in elections in February hinders his chances of being appointed to the non-partisan post.

“It’s obvious that I have never aimed” to succeed Giorgio Napolitano, whose seven-year term expires in May, Monti told Radio Uno’s Radio Anch’io program today. “Some political observers said that was likely; it’s certainly less likely today,” he said.

Monti first declared on Dec. 28 that he would guide a coalition of centrist parties in the Feb. 24-25 vote. His bloc trails the Democratic Party in all opinion polls. Monti’s ally, Union of Centrists party head Pier Ferdinando Casini, said today that Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani cannot expect to become prime minister unless he wins a majority in both houses of Parliament.

Italy’s election law makes it difficult for a party to gain a majority in the Senate, meaning Monti’s forces may end up in a position to bargain with the Democrats over forming a coalition government if the elections produce a hung parliament.

Many investors “hope that Monti is in there somewhere, leading a coalition of maybe not like-minded parties, but just keeping an element of reform, at least not unwinding the reforms that are currently put in place” Rob Carnell, chief international economist at ING Group NV in London, told Guy Johnson and Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television today.

Open to Alliance

Bersani, who backed Monti’s 13-month-old government, told daily newspaper la Repubblica on Dec. 30 that he was open to an alliance with Monti and his allies and that “one cannot govern with 51 percent.” Monti signaled today that he thought the positions of some in the Democratic Party on issues such as welfare and labor relations are too rigid and not in line with his policies.

Monti is leading an alliance of centrist parties that back his agenda to continue an economic overhaul of Italy while supporting support pro-European policies. While he’s overseen a recovery in Italy’s bonds and repaired its tattered standing abroad, Monti’s agenda has left Italians with higher taxes, rising unemployment and an economy mired in its fourth recession since 2001.

Yields Fall

The yield on 10-year bonds, which surged to 7.26 percent in November 2011, past the level that had prompted Ireland, Greece and Portugal to seek bailouts, was at 4.31 percent at 12:55 p.m. in Rome. The gap with similar-maturity German bunds was 292 basis points, down from a 2011 high of 553 basis points.

The Democratic Party had the support of more than 30 percent of potential voters, with its coalition allies backed by another 6 percent in a Dec. 21 poll by the SWG Institute. A list led by Monti would get 15.4 percent, the poll showed.

Monti said today that the light at the end of tunnel of Europe’s economic crisis is “closer” and that Italy’s standing with Germany, the euro-region’s biggest economy, has improved under his government. If confirmed as head of government after the elections, he would commit to lower taxes for families while cutting public spending further and reducing the size of Parliament, Monti said.

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