Monti tells Italy's parties not to cower from tough choices

Premier offers advice after Sicilian elections

Monti tells Italy's parties not to cower from tough choices

Rome, October 30 - Premier Mario Monti on Tuesday told Italy's politicians not to cower from making tough, unpopular decisions when they start running the country again after general elections next year. Monti said the nation's parties should learn from the fact this his unelected emergency government of non-political technocrats enjoys relatively high approval ratings despite it having passed unpopular austerity measures and painful structural economic reforms. "We have done unpleasant, disagreeable things for those who suffered the consequences and for those who carried them out," the premier told a World Economic Forum event in Rome on rebuilding Europe's competitiveness. "And while people's perception of this cursed government is not rosy, its level of approval is higher than that of the parties," added Monti, who took over the helm of government after the financial crisis forced Silvio Berlusconi to resign as premier last year. "There is an important message for the politicians who will govern the country - don't think that you cannot adopt the right policies because you will lose support". Monti was speaking after the results of Sunday's regional elections in Sicily, an important test for the parties ahead of next year's national elections, suggested public disaffection with the nation's political class is intensifying after a series of corruption scandals. Less than half of the island's eligible voters, 47%, used the ballot box Sunday, compared to 66.68% in the 2008 regional elections. Furthermore, the anti-establishment Five Star movement of comedian Beppe Grillo was the party that won most votes, 18.2%, while Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party took a pounding. The PdL is in turmoil after suffering two big corruption scandals in Lazio and Lombardy and party Secretary Angelino Alfano on Monday distanced himself from Berlusconi's threat at the weekend to bring down Monti's government. Rosario Crocetta, who was backed by the main centre-left Democratic Party and the centrist UDC, is set to be Sicily's next governor after his ticket won 30.5% of the vote, although this is not enough for a ruling majority and he will have to find a coalition partner.

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