Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced Saturday that he would step down from his position as soon as parliament approves next year's budget. He made the decision after former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party withdrew its support for Monti. Berlusconi then announced that he himself would run for prime minister a sixth time out of a sense of "responsibility" for Italy. Berlusconi, who has had a long history of legal trouble and was convicted of fraud in October, will base his campaign on opposing Monti's economic policies. Italy, the fourth-largest economy in Europe, is in a recession with unemployment at 11.1 percent. Monti, though, has widely been praised by economists for bringing the deficit under control and implementing reforms to shore up the economy, but he has lost favor with voters for increasing taxes and cutting spending. The possibility still remains that Monti could also run as a candidate, in elections expected to be held as soon as February.
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