Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti resigns as Italy approaches elections

By Dan Rosenfeld,
Hailed as a technocrat, though Italy may return to politics as usual

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti resigned on Friday, ending a 13-month term and fulfilling a promise to step down after Parliament approved a new budget law.

Monti, hailed as a no-nonsense technocrat, was tapped in November 2011 to handle Italy’s mounting debt crisis. "The work we did ... has made the country more trustworthy, besides more competitive and attractive to foreign investors," Monti told diplomats, who gave him a standing ovation, according to the Associated Press.

Monti’s austerity measures have been popular with investors, though Italy remains in recession and reduced government spending hasn’t always been popular with citizens, reported CNN.

The greatest question that remains is whether Silvio Berlusconi, three-time Prime Minister since 1994, will regain the office. Berlusconi has been roundly criticized for his mismanaging of state finances, sex scandals with underage prostitutes, and fraud conviction, yet remains a formidable force in Italian politics.

To many, Monti represented a common sense approach to government, away from the boisterous, personality driven, and some say corrupt rule of Berlusconi, a billionaire and Italy’s sixth richest man, according to Forbes. National elections will be held in February.

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