Photo taken on Dec. 14, 2012 shows Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti gestures during a press conference of the European Union Summit in Brussels, capital of Belgium. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti resigned Friday after parliament gave final approval to the 2013 budget law. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
ROME, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti resigned on Friday after parliament gave final approval to the 2013 budget law.
The 69-year-old economist handed in his formal resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano, who is expected to call early national elections within 70 days of the parliament dissolution, possibly on Feb. 24.
In the lapse of time between Monti's resignation and the vote, the caretaker government remains in office only to take care of ordinary administration.
Earlier this month, he had announced early resignation after losing support of former premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, the biggest group in parliament.
"The President of the Republic took note of the resignation and called on the government to remain in office for the ordinary administration," a statement from the presidential office said late on Friday.
It added that Napolitano will hold consultations on Saturday with parliamentary and party leaders before he dissolves parliament, likely at the weekend, and sends Italians to the polls, probably on Feb. 24.
Speaking to a meeting of ambassadors in Rome, Monti said on Friday that his 13-month office was "difficult but fascinating" and "the situation of Europe and the eurozone has greatly improved, also thanks to Italy."
Monti said he had appreciated that "growth was seen not only in economic terms, but was also regarding the increased authority and credibility of Italy at the international level."
His unelected government has managed to steer the Mediterranean country away from the center of the eurozone crisis through introducing a range of painful austerity measures to tackle huge public debt.
European business communities and partners have increasingly pressured the resigning premier to take the field over the past weeks, but he has kept his own programs a secret.
Monti is set to hold a press conference on Sunday and announce his decision. He is supposed to endorse a coalition of centrist moderate figures or present a program that the next government should pursue to follow up with his austerity policies.
According to local analysts, entering the electoral campaign could force the center-left Democratic Party (PD), which has held a strong lead in the opinion polls for months, to seek a coalition deal to outline the Italian economic agenda.
The PD has promised to maintain the "agenda" of deficit reduction targets that Monti has agreed with the European Union while implementing more growth-oriented policies to revive the recession-hit economy.
Berlusconi, who is set for a comeback after changing his mind several times on whether to run for a fifth mandate, has added to the uncertainty of the Italian political picture.
The media tycoon has intensively campaigned on television over the past days, claiming that Monti risked losing the credibility he has gained and becoming a "little political figure".
Born in 1943 in Varese, a city of northern Italy, Monti graduated from Bocconi University of Milan and studied at Yale University in the United States.
He had been an economics professor and rector at Bocconi University before serving as European Commissioner from 1995 to 2004.
ROME, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Italy's 2013 budget bill won another confidence vote in the upper house of parliament, or Senate, on Thursday and is expected to get final approval on Friday before parliament is dissolved and early elections are called in the recession-hit country.
The bill passed three confidence votes in the lower house of parliament in November and became focal point when Prime Minister Mario Monti, who took the helm of a technocratic government when the debt crisis threatened to spiral out of control one year ago, said Dec. 8 that he would resign immediately following final approval of the 2013 budget bill after he lost support from People of Freedom (PdL) party, the biggest group in parliament, thus paving the way for the general vote to be possibly held on Feb. 24. Full story
ROME, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Italy's Silvio Berlusconi said he would enter the lists of general elections again amid speculation that his party could withdraw support to the emergency government to provoke early elections in which he would be candidate for the next again.
The 76-year-old media tycoon, who has changed his mind many times in recent weeks after whether to stand for a fourth term, said he "could not let Italy fall into an endless recessive spiral." Full story