Italian political crisis kicks off campaigning as markets watch
On Saturday the 69-year-old former European commissioner unexpectedly struck back against Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party which opened the crisis by withdrawing support from his government last week.
After meeting President Giorgio Napolitano on Saturday, he announced he would resign as soon as the 2013 budget is passed.
The vote was already scheduled for no later than April and
Monti's move likely will bring it forward to February, but it
may unnerve markets especially since Berlusconi announced his intention to seek a fifth term as prime minister.
Berlusconi was forced to resign during a ballooning euro
zone debt crisis that had pulled Italy into its vortex while his government put off needed reforms, and amid a sex scandal involving pole-dancing prostitutes at his "bunga bunga" parties.
Opinion polls give the 76-year-old billionaire little chance
of success, with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) under Pier Luigi Bersani holding a strong lead. But the campaign could renew uncertainty about Italy's commitment to reform.
A former communist who is close to Italy's unions, Bersani
has promised to stick to the promises on fiscal discipline the government has made to European partners and has said that Monti
is likely to continue playing a role after the election.
The main barometer of investor confidence, the yield on the
10-year Italian government bond, stood at 4.5 percent at the end
of last week. That was
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