Italy's Prime Minister to Quit After Losing Party Support

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ROME -- Prime Minister Mario Monti said he intended to resign after losing the backing of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party, according to a statement issued late Saturday by the president's office.

Mr. Monti said that he would first try to muster the votes needed to pass a budget for 2013 but that the withdrawal of support last week by Mr. Berlusconi's People of Liberty party represented a "categorical motion of no confidence in the government," according to the statement.

Only hours earlier, Mr. Berlusconi said that he was ready to run for office again, promising to bring the change Italy needed.

During a two-hour meeting on Saturday evening, Mr. Monti told President Giorgio Napolitano that he would make an effort in Parliament to pass the budget and a financial stability law to try to defer "the consequences of a government crisis" before handing in his "irrevocable resignation," the statement said.

A year ago, Mr. Monti was asked to form a government after the resignation of Mr. Berlusconi, who left office amid personal and political turmoil. With Italy on the brink of financial dissolution, Mr. Monti's government of technocrats proposed a series of structural changes to put the country on a more fiscally responsible path.

Though some measures have fallen short of that aim, and have largely failed to stimulate economic growth, Mr. Monti has been widely credited with bolstering Italy's standing with global financial markets.

As the European Union pressed Italy to enact changes to lower its public debt and streamline its pension system and costly labor market, Mr. Monti counted on multiparty support for his policies. Last week, however, Mr. Berlusconi's party distanced itself from the government's economic policies.

Mr. Berlusconi, 76, who dominated Italian politics for nearly two decades, said that his party had been unable to find a credible successor, and so the task of commanding the party had once again fallen to him.

"To win you need an acknowledged leader," he told reporters outside the training facilities of his soccer team, A. C. Milan. "It's not as though we didn't look for this leader, we did, and how, but there isn't one, and so ..." he said, his voice trailing off before he laughed.

Though he is unlikely to win an election, Mr. Berlusconi could still get enough votes to hold some sway in Parliament. He said Saturday that the country was worse off today than when he left office.

Italian newspapers on Saturday hypothesized that elections would be held in March.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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