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Mario Monti - 2011-12

Mario MontiItalian Prime Minister-designate Mario Monti, a former top EU commissioner, was asked 12 November 2011 by the country's president to form a new government. The move came a day after Berlusconi's resignation, following international financial concerns about the Italian economy. Italy’s borrowing costs soared last week and investors made it clear they wanted Berlusconi out of office. Former coalition partners, the Northern League Party, refused to back Monti as prime minister, instead calling for early elections.

Analysts hoped Monti, a well-respected economist, can bring a calming presence to the country as it struggles to thwart an economic crisis caused by a ballooning public debt. Italy's borrowing costs have increased to their highest level since it joined the common euro currency zone and are now close to the same seven percent levels that pushed Ireland, Portugal and Greece to seek bailout loans. Most of the new austeriry plan will kick in after the next Italian elections in 2013.

Though Monti had backing from the main opposition Democratic Party and several smaller opposition groups, Berlusconi's allies were initially split over who should replace the embattled leader. But the PDL president's office approved a proposal by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and party leader Angelino Alfano, to express to the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, the party's support for the appointment of Senator Mario Monti to form an emergency government.

James Walston of the American University of Rome said investors desperately wanted to see such sweeping changes. “I think that Mario Monti is the person that the markets are waiting for. The former EU commissioner, he’s been dealing with competition policy, he’s internationally respected, he’s a very good economist. I think it will bring stability. He will have to face a lot of challenges and it’s not going to be easy,” Walston said.

Mario Monti was President of Bocconi University, Milan, and Honorary President of Bruegel, the European think tank he launched in 2005. He was also a member of the Reflection Group “Europe 2020-2030”, created by the European Council and chaired by Felipe González. He is International Advisor of Goldman Sachs and Member of the International Advisory Board of the Coca-Cola Company.

Università Bocconi, founded in 1902, was the first Italian university to grant a degree in economics. For a century, Bocconi has played a leading role in Italy's social and economic modernization. It has remained true to its founding values of being a major research university, with democratic values and open to the world, as well as financially and politically independent. Bocconi is a research university of international standing in business, economics, and law. Its research projects are funded by national and supranational institutions.

Bruegel is a European think tank working in the field of international economics. Established in 2005, Bruegel is independent and non-doctrinal. It seeks to contribute to European and global economic policy-making through open, fact-based and policy-relevant research, analysis and debate. Bruegel‘s governance and funding model is unique. Its membership includes EU governments and leading international corporations. Its day-to-day work is carried out at arm‘s length from members‘ interests. In recognition of his commitment and achievements, in 2008 the Board decided to grant Mario Monti the title of Honorary President of Bruegel, and to propose him as Bruegel’s first Honorary Member. His legacy is one of ambition, integrity and independence.

In October 2009, European Commission's President José Manuel Barroso entrusted him with the mission of relaunching the single market. His report on A new strategy for the single market, presented on 10 May 2010, includes a map of legislative proposals to boost Europe's productivity and competitiveness. As the EU-appointed coordinator for the electricity interconnection between France and Spain, he brokered an agreement between the two heads of governments in June 2008. He was a member of the Attali Committee on French economic growth, set up by President Sarkozy (2007-2008).

He was for ten years a member of the European Commission, in charge of the Internal market, Financial services and Tax policy (1995-1999), then of Competition (1999-2004). In addition to a number of high-profile cases (e.g. GE/Honeywell, Microsoft, the German Landesbanken), he introduced radical modernization reforms of EU antitrust and merger control and led, with the US authorities, the creation of the International Competition Network (ICN).

Born in Varese, Italy, in 1943, he graduated from Bocconi University and did graduate studies at Yale University. Prior to joining the European Commission, he was Professor of Economics at Università Bocconi and then Rector from 1989 to 1994.

On 09 November 2011 the President of the Republic nominated professor Mario Monti Senator for life. Pursuant to article 59, second paragraph of the Constitution, President Napolitano nominated professor Mario Monti Senator for life for his services to the country in the scientific and social fields. The decree was counter-signed by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Monti was not a natural politician, and calling his coalition "With Monti for Italy" was almost political suicide, because his personality does not invite followers. Monti performed really badly. He was a competent technocrat, but he was a terrible politician. He was awkward on television, and he was just not good at communicating.

On 10 December 2012 the unexpected resignation of Monti added a new uncertainty to the eurozone debt crisis. The resignation was sparked when Berlusconi announced his conservative party was withdrawing support of the Monti government. Monti, who had led the Italian government for a year, announced that he would resign when parliament passed next year's budget, likely leading to new elections in February 2013, several weeks earlier than the planned May 2013 date. Polls showed the center-left Democratic Party led by Pier Luigi Bersani held a strong lead and could form the next government. Berlusconi, whose last government was marked by financial and sexual scandals, said he would seek another term as the Italian leader.

Monti said on 29 December 2012 he would lead a coalition of center parties in a parliamentary election in February 2013. After four hours of negotiations with centrist politicians, Monti said he would like to be “named leader of the coalition.” On December 23, 2012 Monti had said he would consider an offer to govern the country again, but would not stand as a candidate in the February 2013 elections. Monti told a news conference that if one or more political forces were backing his agenda and asked him to be premier, then he would consider it. He rejected calls from centrist groups to run in the election, saying he has no sympathy for "personal" parties. Monti announced his resignation after Berlusconi's People of Freedom party withdrew its support from the government, triggering early elections. Monti headed an interim government until the vote.

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Page last modified: 17-02-2014 18:09:35 ZULU