Monti, in Twitter Q&A, says new voting law priority for Italy

ROME Sat Jan 5, 2013 10:18pm IST

Italy's outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti poses before the taping of the talk show ''Otto e mezzo'' (Eight and a half) at La7 television in Rome January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Italy's outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti poses before the taping of the talk show ''Otto e mezzo'' (Eight and a half) at La7 television in Rome January 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi

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ROME (Reuters) - Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Saturday if he wins February's parliamentary election one of his first acts would be to overhaul the voting law to improve democracy and government stability.

Monti, 69, who last week confirmed he would lead a centrist coalition in the February 24-25 vote, called himself a "bit of a pioneer" in politics during nearly 2 hours of #MontiLive tweets.

The electoral law is unpopular because party leaders select candidates and voters cannot choose their representatives. For technical reasons, it also makes forming a stable majority more difficult, leading to broad and unwieldy coalitions.

"This electoral law is not worthy of a country like Italy," said Monti of the 2005 legislation passed when centre-right rival Silvio Berlusconi was in power.

Monti and Berlusconi trail the centre-left in opinion polls and have made multiple appearances, mainly on TV, over the past week as they seek to recoup support and motivate voters who have said they do not intend to vote.

A poll by the Tecne research institute released on SkyTG24 on Friday showed Monti's grouping would likely attract slightly more than 12 percent of the vote.

That compared with 40 percent for the centre-left bloc led by Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic Party (PD); and 25 percent for the most likely centre-right coalition of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) and the Northern League.

In a separate tweet, Monti indicated he would "dialogue" with anyone after the vote whether he wins or not, as long as they are "reformists".

BERLUSCONI BROADSIDE

Speaking at the same time in a live interview on the website of Corriere della Sera newspaper, Berlusconi said he would never again ally himself with Monti even though he offered him the leadership of the centre-right just a few weeks ago.

"All Italian citizens, in one way or another, are suffering" as a result of Monti's 13 months in power, said Berlusconi, who says austerity has led the country into a recessionary spiral.

Monti took over in November 2011 when Italy was scrambling to avert a financial crisis and after Berlusconi, besieged by a sex scandal involving an underage prostitute, stepped down.

Berlusconi repeated on Saturday that his resignation was the result of an international plot to oust him and denied having made mistakes during his more than nine years in power.

"My only error is that I have not been able to explain what I have done for the country," Berlusconi said.

"By now (Monti's) image has become that of a person with whom I could not possibly collaborate," Berlusconi said, calling the prime minister's new alliance with two of Berlusconi's former allies a "triple disaster".

Berlusconi said a renewed accord with the Northern League may be finalised on Sunday. The Northern League has said the 76-year-old billionaire must not be the bloc's prime ministerial candidate for a sixth time.

"Monti is an enemy of the north, and stopping him from returning to government is a categorical priority for us. Who is against Monti is an ally of the League," Northern League leader Roberto Maroni tweeted on Saturday.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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