Monti backtracks after casting doubt on future governments

Premier stirred controversy with 'no guarantees' comment

Monti backtracks after casting doubt on future governments

Doha, November 19 - Premier Mario Monti moved to take the sting out of some controversial comments he made about Italy's future political situation on Monday, when he said the governments that succeed his emergency administration will do even better. Monti, who is on a visit to the Persian Gulf, came under fire from several politicians on Sunday after he said in Kuwait that he "could not guarantee" the reliability of future Italian governments. But the former European commissioner said Monday that he was confident future governments would build on the work of his administration of unelected technocrats, which has passed painful austerity measures and structural economic reforms to steer Italy away from the centre of the eurozone crisis. "Whatever happens in Italian politics, I think there will be responsible governments that will do even better in making it possible for the Italian economy to progress," Monti, whose term as premier is set to end next spring, said in Doha. "Even after the vote, I'm sure that the governments that will come after (mine) will work to restore health to the public finances and pass reforms". The furore exploded amid considerable uncertainty about Italy's political situation, with the parties set to resume power after elections next spring. Some commentators doubt that a clear winner will emerge from the elections and, if it does, whether the political leaders will have the stomach for the sort of unpopular measures economists view as necessary to end Italy's economic troubles. The main centre-left Democratic Party is ahead in the polls but it looks set to form an alliance with the left-wing SEL party, which has been staunchly opposed to Monti's government since it came to power after the financial crisis forced Silvio Berlusconi to resign as premier last year. Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party is having trouble with internal divisions and it has dropped to third in the polls after the party was badly hit by a string of corruption scandals. It has been overtaken in the polls by comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star movement, which is against the current party system and wants Italy to hold a referendum on pulling out of the euro. As a result, many figures at the centre of Italy's political spectrum are calling for a second Monti administration, this time featuring members of political parties. Monti has said he will not stand at next year's elections but has indicated he would be willing to stay on if there is no clear winner and the parties ask him to form another government.

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