Rome, January 14 - Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democratic Party (PD) and front-runner to become Italy's next premier, told The Washington Post in an interview published Sunday that his centre-left coalition, if elected in February, would try to collaborate with outgoing premier Mario Monti to continue reforms aimed at fixing Italy's economy. "We are open to collaboration. Not exchanging favors, but signing a pact for reforms and reconstruction of the country," Bersani told the American newspaper. Monti was appointed to guide Italy from the brink of financial disaster in November 2011 as the head of a technocrat government. Since then, he has introduced a series of austerity measures and systemic reforms that won international praise and saw interest rates on Italian bonds fall by more than half since he took the helm. The measures have been unpopular and created new recessionary pressure on Italy, already suffering a decade of stagnation exacerbated by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Monti resigned in December after the centre-right People of Freedom Party (PdL), led by Silvio Berlusconi, abstained in a parliament vote, threatening Monti's majority. Monti has since proposed a policy agenda for the next government, to be elected February 24, and announced he would run for premier with the support of a coalition of centrist political parties. When Bersani was asked why he seemed to stand on the sidelines as Monti and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi hashed out differences in the public spotlight, Bersani explained, "Mr. Berlusconi was responsible for the premature fall of Monti's government. And Mr. Monti did not like it one bit". "We kept our promise to support Monti until the very end - we kept our promise, although it was not easy. So now we just keep watching," added Bersani.