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Italy’s Monti to lead election coalition

Mario Monti, Italian prime minister, formed a centrist group for ethical politics.

Tony Gentile/Reuters

Mario Monti, Italian prime minister, formed a centrist group for ethical politics.

ROME — Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced Friday he is heading a new campaign coalition of centrists, business leaders, and pro-Vatican forces backing his ‘‘ethical’’ vision of politics, paving the way for him to get a second term if his alliance wins big in February’s parliamentary elections.

After a four-hour huddle with supporters, Monti stopped short of saying he is running as a candidate for the premiership but said the ballot list would carry the banner ‘‘Monti Agenda for Italy.’’

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‘‘I will watch over the creation of [parliamentary] candidate lists, and for now, I agree to carry out the role of coalition head, and I am working for the success of this operation,’’ said Monti, who was appointed 13 months ago after his scandal-plagued predecessor Silvio Berlusconi failed to stop Italy from sliding deeper into the eurozone debt crisis.

Monti said his aim was not to defeat the political right or left but ‘‘to prolong and intensify the pace and extend the objectives of’’ his government.

His range of supporters is impressive. They include the chief of Ferrari’s Formula One racing team as well as figures in the highest Vatican echelons. On Christmas Day, Pope Benedict XVI issued a call for higher values in politics that was read as a virtual endorsement for another Monti term.

Monti said the new political grouping includes likeminded politicians and civic leaders determined to infuse ethics into Italian politics as well as bring renewed vigor to economic reforms aimed at pulling the country out of recession. Monti does not have to run for the legislature.

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