By James Mackenzie
ROME Dec 11 Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Tuesday he still wanted to influence political debate in whatever role he fills after elections next year, leaving his political future open following speculation he may remain in politics.
Financial markets have reacted nervously to the uncertain political outlook facing Italy after the election and in particular to the return of Silvio Berlusconi as the candidate of the centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.
Berlusconi launched a stinging attack on Monti's technocrat government on Tuesday, accusing it of accepting severe economic austerity policies dictated by Germany which had dragged Italy into recession.
Monti has so far kept silent on his future, saying on Monday that he was concentrating on his remaining time in government and was not thinking about whether to stand as a candidate.
Speaking on state television RAI on Tuesday, he defended his government's economic record and warned against "oversimplified" election promises that hid the true problems facing Italy and he again left his political plans open.
"Politics is above all a question of culture, that is, trying to give direction to people's ideas," he told state television RAI.