Italy's Monti, down in polls, unveils alliance

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January 5, 2013 6:14 AM EST

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti unveiled on Friday the alliance he will lead for February parliamentary elections in which opinion polls show him trailing mainstream parties.

The 69-year-old former European Commissioner, who replaced Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister in November 2011 when Italy was scrambling to avert a financial crisis, announced last week that he would bid for a second term.

Monti said on Friday the grouping would be called "With Monti for Italy", whose logo is a circular symbol with the colours of the Italian flag and his surname in the centre.

"I hope that (the new alliance) helps improve politics, and that it renews the interest of those Italians who had turned their back on politics, involving them actively again in public affairs," Monti said.

Opinion surveys have shown that up to 50 percent of the electorate plan to abstain or are undecided in the February 24-25 election.

A poll by the Tecne research institute released on SkyTG24 on Friday showed that Monti's grouping would likely attract slightly more than 12 percent of the vote.

That compared to 40 percent for his rivals on the left, the Democratic Party (PD) and its coalition ally Left, Ecology, Freedom, and 25 percent for the most likely centre-right coalition of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) and the Northern League, the poll showed.

Monti has said he wants to form a broad coalition of pro-Europe, pro-reform parties after the election, and aims to marginalise "extreme" elements on Italy's left and right, as well as populist, anti-European movements.

The economics professor said he would lead a single alliance in the upper house, while three separate blocs would run as a coalition with Monti as their leader in the lower house.

The different groupings in the two houses would maximise the alliance's political power while preserving the separate identities of the centrist parties that are backing Monti.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby and Steve Scherer; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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