Italy's caretaker Premier Mario Monti said today he won't run in February elections, but if political parties that back his anti-crisis agenda ask him to head the next government he would "evaluate the offer." Monti ruled out heading any ticket himself, saying "I have no sympathy for 'personal' parties"—a clear dig at Silvio Berlusconi's offer for him to head a center-right ticket. Monti's decision ends weeks of speculation that have dominated Italian politics and preoccupied Europe, which is eager to see Monti's financial reforms continue.
Monti said Berlusconi's flipping back and forth between condemning the government's economic policies and then praising him convinced him that "I couldn't accept his offer." Berlusconi's logic "escapes me," he said, to laughter. Monti stepped down Friday after Berlusconi's party withdrew its support from his technical government, but has been asked stay on in a caretaker capacity in the run-up to Feb. 24-25 elections. But he left the door open to another stint as PM, "If one or more political forces is credibly backing (Monti's) agenda or even has a better one."