ROME Jan 20 Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
launched his campaign for a second term on Sunday with a speech
calling for deep-rooted reforms to kick start economic growth,
four weeks ahead of a parliamentary election.
"Italy needs radical reforms. Radical reforms for those who
are outside protected interest groups, and for young people who
cannot find work because others are over-protected," the
economist said at the launch of his campaign for the February
In an interview with the premier on Sunday, daily Corriere
della Sera said Monti planned to try to modify a labour reform
that was watered down during a lengthy passage through
parliament last year. Monti said only that
nothing had been decided.
In his speech Monti said he would push for a "drastic
reduction" of the number of parliamentarians and a rearrangement
of the Italian state to make it "less onerous". Such reforms
have long had broad cross-party support, but have stalled in
The head of a technocrat government appointed in November
2011 to rescue Italy from a Greek-style meltdown with austerity
and reforms, Monti said he would stick to cutting the country's
debt burden but that Italians could look forward to a gradual
reduction in taxes.
The promise came after a week in which support for the
centre-right party of rival Silvio Berlusconi rose two points to
17.7 percent according to a Friday poll by SWG. Berlusconi
repeatedly promised to abolish a much-hated property tax
introduced by Monti to mend Italian public finances.
The event in the northern steel-making town of Dalmine
sought to present the sober economics professor as the man who
could re-establish Italy as a competitive manufacturing country
after years of economic stagnation.
Yet with just 13.7 percent of the vote according to the SWG
poll, Monti's centrist movement will likely need to join a
coalition in order to be part of the next government.
A possible partner is the centre-left coalition led by
Democratic leader Pier Luigi Bersani, which has 33 percent
However, a deep recession, high unemployment and disgust at
a political class marred by years of scandals is also driving
support for the anti-establishment 5 Star movement of comedian
Beppe Grillo, which is now Italy's third largest party but has
yet to be tested in parliament.
Founded in 2009, the citizens' movement proved itself a
force to be reckoned with when it emerged as the single largest
party in regional elections in Sicily in October, seen as a
possible precursor to the February vote.