The time for Italy’s prime minister Mario Monti to step down is getting closer after the Senate voted through next year’s budget.
The lower house is expected to give its approval by the weekend, meaning parliament can be dissolved and Monti will resign, as he planned.
Appointed as head of a technocratic government over a year ago, Monti somehow joining the election campaign may be worrying former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who will run for a sixth time time.
During a radio interview, Berlusconi said: “I think it is not even in Monti’s interest to become a small player alongside other small players in Italian politics, instead of this kind of miracle saviour he wanted to be.”
Monti refuses to talk about his political future until after parliament dissolves, but there is speculation he may be backed by a new centrist grouping set up by Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.
Elections are most likely to take place on February 24 – the date put forward by the interior minister and hinted at by Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano.