ROME (Reuters) - Italy needs a strong political government, not another technocrat administration when Prime Minister Mario Monti's term ends in the spring, the head of the country's main employers' confederation said on Sunday.
Talk of Monti being reinstalled after the elections has been swirling in Italy and the prime minister said in New York on Thursday that if no clear winner emerges from the vote he would be willing to carry on if asked to.
However, the unelected former European commissioner also made it clear that he would not be a candidate at the election. Many politicians, especially on the center-left which leads in the polls, are cool to the idea of Monti continuing.
"I don't think a non-candidate can run the next government, because what we have seen in these months is a government experience which has honestly shown a lot of difficulties," Confindustria President Giorgio Squinzi told Rome daily Il Messaggero.
"We need safe political leadership which wins the majority of votes and has stability, a program, and the ability to carry it out."
Angelino Alfano, the national secretary of Silvio Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom party was also hostile to the idea of Monti carrying on unless he ran at the elections.
"I think we have to respect the election result," Alfano said in an interview with Sky Italia television channel.
"How would a second Monti government come about? It's technically unexplainable. I find it hard to imagine an election campaign in a western democracy in which there is a real candidate, for the left, and a virtual candidate on the other side because he doesn't want to run for the job."
Confindustria President Squinzi has often been critical of Monti, a stance he renewed in Sunday's interview when he called his reform to increase labor market flexibility "a wasted opportunity."
However, while Squinzi leads Italy's largest business lobby it is far from clear if his view represents most of its members.
Earlier this month more than 80 percent of 137 bankers, businessmen and senior academics attending an annual conference in northern Italy said they would like Monti to carry on, according to a survey by the Italian news agency Radiocor.
On Sunday Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, himself a former Confindustria president, said his political movement Future Italy would run at the election by asking voters to express support for a second Monti government.
Other centrist parties and groups will do the same, including the Future and Freedom party led by lower house speaker Gianfranco Fini and Pier Ferdinando Casini's Union of the Centre (UDC).
However these parties currently have little popular support.
"Italy is falling apart," Montezemolo told Corriere della Sera daily, explaining that the country's ongoing economic and financial emergency would justify another term for an unelected leader.
Montezemolo said he himself had no intention of being a candidate and neither did he suggest he would step down as Ferrari president.
Ordinary Italians are more favourable towards Monti himself than his policies, Renato Mannheimer, head of the ISPO polling agency, told Corriere.
While 51 percent have a positive judgment of Monti, 53 percent hope that he will step down as prime minister and 54 percent hope the next government adopts policies "radically different" from those he has pursued.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones; editing by Patrick Graham)