Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Monti hailed at EPP summit, Merkel 'asks' him to run

English
© ANSA

Rome, December 13 - Italian Premier Mario Monti
received a huge wave of support when he made a surprise
appearance at a European People's Party summit on Thursday, at
which German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have asked him
to run for office in Italy's upcoming general elections.
The solidarity and affection from the centre-right group
came after the former European commissioner said at the weekend
he would resign from the helm of his emergency government in
Rome.
The announcement was a consequence of ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party withdrawing its
support for the administration that replaced the media magnate's
third government last year, when Italy's debt crisis looked in
danger of spiralling out of control.
Concern has been expressed in European circles about the
direction Rome will take after Monti's emergency administration
of unelected technocrats steps down from power.
These were heightened in recent days by Silvio Berlusconi
blasting Monti's austerity policies as "too German-centric"
after the media magnate announced he would run for a fourth term
as premier.
Several sources at the summit told ANSA that Merkel has
invited Monti to run at elections likely to take place in
mid-to-late February.
Elmar Brok, an influential German MEP for Merkel's
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said that Monti had been
invited to try to keep his job.
"We said it clearly to Monti that we would like to see him
stand and that we have had a good rapport with him," Brok said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Thursday that "it is
clear that the EPP supports (Italian Premier) Mario Monti and
not Silvio Berlusconi".
Earlier this week Joseph Daul, the chairman of the EPP
caucus in the European Parliament, publicly criticised the
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party for causing Monti's
government to collapse.
This was seen as significant as the PdL belongs to the
EPP.
"The European People's Party appreciates the results
achieved by Premier Monti," Rutte added on Thursay after an EPP
summit in Brussels attended by both Monti and Berlusconi.
Monti refused to comment on speculation he could run in
upcoming general elections, but did not rule out standing
either.
"No comment. This would not be the time or the place," he
said in Brussels when asked about speculation he could be the
premier candidate for a group of centrist parties.
Monti is not a member of a political party that belongs to
the EPP so his presence fuelled speculation he may run for
premier.
But he said he had only attended to give an outline of
Italy's political situation.
"I came here to explain the Italian political situation,"
Monti said.
"I recalled what the situation was when I started (as
premier), the things that have been done and the conditions that
determined my decision".
Berlusconi announced a partial change of position on
Wednesday, saying he would not stand if Monti agreed to head a
new conservative coalition at February elections.
He invited Monti to lead a broad coalition, including the
PdL, the centrist UDC and the populist, regionalist Northern
League.
Political pundits consider it unlikely that Monti would
agree to Berlusconi's proposal, given the fact that the PdL
stopped backing his government and the League has been one of
its staunchest critics.
Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani, meanwhile,
reiterated on Thursday that he does not think Monti should run,
but stressed he would cooperate with the former European
commissioner if he does.
"Mario Monti should stay out of the election campaign,"
Bersani, who is the centre left's premier candidate and is
favourite to win the elections with the PD ahead in the polls,
told German daily Die Welt.
"If, however, he does decide to stand, we'll respect this
decision and we'll show our willingness to cooperate".

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