I received this question from Irini Mitropoulou of To Vima, a Greek broadsheet:
"Do you think that he will stay on for a second term? Who would want him to stay, and who wouldn't? Is there any reliable political alternative? And what is the prevalent mood in the italian society? Are the italian people willing to make more sacrifices,«for the good of the country»?"
This was my answer:
Monti's strength is as a leader who is not directly linked with any political party or leader. He is manifestly a Catholic, a limited free-market liberal centrist but if he puts his name to any of the parties which match that definition, he loses his independence and that strength. Italians are fed up with politicians, not necessarily with policies. They are largely accepting Monti's painful medicine precisely because it is not coming from the traditional parties.
But Casini (UDC) and Fini (FLI) and Montezemolo (Italia futura) would like to have his name and prestige and are trying to bring him on board - hence the manoeuvres of the last few days. Berlusconi and Alfano would like to have him as an ally so as not to lose by too much but Monti has played hard to get with them and the others.
The only alternative, at the moment with the present polls is a a centre-left government led by Bersani and the PD (or whoever wins the PD primaries) with perhaps Monti as Economics minister after the elections.
But all predictions are conditioned by the lack of electoral law. The teams are lining up for the match but they don't know if they going to play football or rugby or basketball.
The anti-Monti elements are clear and declared: the present opposition, left (IdV and SEL) and right (Lega Nord) have said that don't like him or his policies. The PD and the PdL are much more equivocal - they want some of his policies and they still need him as a shield to do the dirty (and unpopular) work for them.
For their part, the Italian people are punch-drunk. They are not yet angry enough like a good proportion of the Greeks, to go out an protest but they don't have a plausible alternative. If there was a serious proposal, they probably would accept further sacrifices but no one has managed to convince them - and every scandal makes it less likely that they might be convinced. They know they don't like "politicians" and half of them say they will not vote.
Greece is already in the trough - Italy is still on the brink.
Published 7 October 2012 Μόντι: Βολικός αλλά ανήσυχος