Monti says he will lead centrists in Italian vote

ROME - Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Friday he would lead a centrist alliance in an election in February, ending weeks of speculation over his political future and confirming his bid for a second term.
The announcement clears up some of the uncertainty hanging over election and puts Monti in a three-way contest for power with the center-left Democratic Party (PD), which is leading in the polls, and Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party.
The former European Commissioner, appointed at the head of a technocrat government last year to save Italy from financial crisis after Berlusconi stepped down as prime minister, said he was willing to accept "being named as leader of the coalition".
Monti said the alliance would try to go beyond traditional political boundaries and unite a broad coalition of political factions and groups from civil society around a reform agenda aimed at repairing the deep problems in the Italian economy.
"The traditional left-right split has historic and symbolic value" for the country, but "it does not highlight the real alliance that Italy needs - one that focuses on Europe and reforms", Monti said after a meeting with centrist politicians.