ROME — After keeping Italians, and the rest of Europe, in suspense for weeks, interim Prime Minister Mario Monti on Sunday ruled out running in February elections but said he would consider leading the next government if political forces sharing his reform-focused economic agenda requested it.
The decision by Monti positions him to take the helm again without having to get into the nitty-gritty of campaigning — thus preserving his image as someone above the political fray who can make tough decisions imposing austerity measures.
His previous budget measures have boosted confidence in Italy’s finances, and fellow European leaders have made it no secret that they want his policies to stay in place.
Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-tainted former premier considering another run, commented scathingly on Monti’s openness to another term.
‘‘I had a nightmare — still a government with Monti,’’ the media mogul said in an interview on state TV. He has said in the past that he would run again if Monti did not, but made no commitment Sunday about his own political future. Berlusconi continues to face several legal and sex-related scandals.
After his resignation Friday, Monti is continuing in a caretaker role in charge of a nonelected government tasked with rescuing Italy from economy. He ruled out heading any ticket — even a center-right grouping that Berlusconi said he would be willing to back. But the 69-year-old economist made it clear he was willing to take another turn in power.