Monti 'worried', had 'no choice' but to announce resignation

Outgoing premier lost support of Berlusconi's PdL

Monti 'worried', had 'no choice' but to announce resignation

(see related stories) Rome, December 10 - Premier Mario Monti has said he is worried about Italy's plight but had no alternative to announcing he would quit after Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party withdrew its support from his government. "I'm convinced I did the right thing," former European commissioner Monti, who said on Saturday that he would resign once the 2013 budget law is approved, told La Repubblica. "I could not do otherwise after what happened. I didn't feel a majority around me that, even with some reservations and maybe resentment, was capable of supporting the political position and programme we had agreed on. "I couldn't do otherwise. It would not have been right or possible. "But naturally I'm worried, not for myself, but for what I see". Monti came to power at the helm of an administration of unelected technocrats a year ago when Berlusconi was forced to quit as premier with Italy's debt crisis threatening to spiral out of control. He has passed austerity measures that reassured investors Italy was putting its financial house in order but which also deepened the recession the country slipped into last year. The PdL helped pass those measures and a series of structural economic reforms, along with the other mainstream parties in parliament, the centre-left Democratic Party and the centrist UDC. But on Friday PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano said he considered Monti's government finished after the party rebelled by failing to back the administration in two confidence votes on Thursday. At the weekend, Berlusconi blasted the record of Monti's government as he confirmed he had dropped plans to resign from front-line politics and would stand for a fourth term as premier in national elections that are now expected to take place in February. "We have stood by our commitments, but there is not one single economic indicator that is positive," Berlusconi said Sunday. Monti stressed, however, that the PdL was not the only source of concern for him. "If I were to candidly express my feelings today, I'd say I'm very worried," he said. "And I don't refer only to the part of the political world that caused this epilogue with my resignation. My concern is more general". The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) is favourite to win the elections with polls saying that around 30% of people intend to vote for it. The PD has committed itself to continuing with Monti's line of rigour in handling the public finances, but some have expressed doubts about whether it will be able to do so, especially if it does not win a strong majority in parliament. The second biggest group in the polls is comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is against the existing party system and wants a referendum over whether to keep the euro as Italy's currency. The PdL, the biggest party in parliament at the moment, has slipped to third in the polls after being hit by internal divisions and by big corruption scandals in Lazio and Lombardy.

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