lunedì 10 dicembre 2012

Alessandra Galloni e Giada Zampano: Italy Front-Runner Vows Steady Hand. Bersani, Leading in Race for Prime Minister, Promises to Respect Country's Economic Commitments @ Wall Street Journal, 10 December 2012



Italy Front-Runner Vows Steady Hand

Bersani, Leading in Race for Prime Minister, Promises to Respect Country's Economic Commitments

by Alessandra Galloni e Giada Zampano

PIACENZA, Italy—Pier Luigi Bersani, the center-left politician whom polls tip as Italy's next leader, pledged to uphold his country's economic commitments to Europe amid the debt crisis and not to dismantle key overhauls by the current government, if he is elected in a coming national vote.
"We will respect the very stringent commitments taken…and we will take them on as our own," Mr. Bersani said in an interview at a small hotel in his hometown in Italy's northern Emilia Romagna region over the weekend.

Mr. Bersani spoke hours before Prime Minister Mario Monti announced he would resign once Parliament approves the country's 2013 budget. The surprise decision means Italy is likely to hold elections as early as February, accelerating the departure of Mr. Monti's yearlong technocrat government earlier than expected and ushering in what promises to be a volatile two months of political jostling as Italy tries to return to democratic governance.
The key players expected to shape the country's immediate future are Mr. Bersani, whose Democratic Party is the largest party in Italy; Silvio Berlusconi, who after months of remaining on the back benches said this weekend that he would run himself in the hope of reversing a slide in the popularity of his conservative party; and Mr. Monti, who many centrist politicians hope will run as their candidate for premier.
"It appears Italy is suddenly ready to steal the headlines from Greece and Spain as a potential source of EU tail risk," or the risk of unforeseen rare events, said Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank in Denmark. Mr. Jakobsen added that Mr. Monti had become an influential voice defending the euro area's weaker southern economies.

As the campaign gets into gear this week, Mr. Bersani is hoping to present himself as the candidate most fit to lead the country. The 61-year-old politician—a cigar-smoking three-time minister responsible for various economic issues who punctuates his speech with folksy metaphors—is trying to dispel fears on international markets that a center-left government would be a setback for Italy.

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