The Straits Times
Published on Dec 13, 2012

Berlusconi sows confusion with support for Monti as PM


ROME (AFP) - Italy's Silvio Berlusconi sowed confusion on Wednesday saying he could abandon his re-election bid if Prime Minister Mario Monti decided to run - just five days after launching his own campaign.

"If Monti runs for leader, I would take a step back," Mr Berlusconi, 76, said at a book presentation, a day after the flamboyant three-time prime minister attacked his successor for failing to revive the Italian economy.

"I think it would be a great benefit for the country if professor Monti becomes the next prime minister as leader of a moderate movement," added the billionaire media tycoon, outlining a possible broad centre-right coalition.

Mr Monti, who is credited with restoring Italy's international credibility and pulling the economy back from the brink of default, has said he will step down in the coming days but has declined to comment on his future political plans. A general election is expected to be held in February, analysts say.