ROME Feb 21 Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
rowed back on Thursday from comments suggesting that German
Chancellor Angela Merkel had expressed opposition to his
political rivals on the centre-left days before an election next
Monti, leading a centrist coalition in the election, was
quoted a day earlier saying that he did not think Merkel had
"any wish to see the PD in government", referring to the
Democratic Party, the main centre-left force which has been
leading in opinion polls before the vote.
He made the statement in response to an assertion by his
other main rival. Silvio Berlusconi. who had said that Monti and
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani had already agreed to join forces
"with Merkel's blessing".
"I wanted to rebut what Berlusconi said yesterday and say
that it was not only untrue but implausible," Monti said in a
video interview broadcast on the website of the daily Corriere
In an increasingly bitter election campaign, Berlusconi has
sought to paint Monti as a Merkel subordinate, following
"German-centric" austerity policies ordered by Brussels and
Berlin that he says have plunged Italy into recession.
Monti in turn has accused the scandal-plagued Berlusconi of
damaging Italy's international credibility and has highlighted
his own image outside Italy as a guarantor of stability.
He denied "that there was any kind of conversation between
me and the PD about an agreement - false - or that Mrs Merkel
has even the slightest involvement."
"I'm the one protecting Merkel from any arbitrary
involvement in the Italian election that Berlusconi is
attributing to her," he said.
He also denied that if he were to seek an agreement with the
left he would need the "blessing" of the conservative German
"It's a bit paradoxical when you think of it because Merkel
and Berlusconi are part of the same political family," he said.