ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Tuesday he would not run in elections due in spring, in an interview in which he said Italy no longer risked igniting a debt crisis in the euro zone.
"I will not run for the elections," Monti said in an interview on news channel CNN during a trip to the United States.
"I think it's important that the whole political game resumes in Italy, hopefully with a higher degree of responsibility and maturity."
He noted that he had been appointed a lifetime senator by Italy's president and therefore would still hold political office, but his comments mean he will not run to lead government.
There is uncertainty over whether the next government will continue to push through tough austerity measures brought in by Monti's technocrat government to address Italy's high levels of debt since it was appointed late last year.
Monti, charged with bringing Italy from the risk of a Greek-style debt default, said his fears for the future of the euro zone had eased as Italy no longer risked sparking crisis in the region.
"Since June-July this year I am much more confident about the future of the euro zone first of all because we are not going to ignite an Italian-generated fire."
He added that an ECB plan to buy the bonds of troubled countries, agreed after what he called a "evolution in Germany", meant mechanisms for euro zone governance were "improving by the month".
According to the most recent opinion poll, between 37 and 39 percent of Italians would like Monti to be the next prime minister, making him the most popular choice, followed by center-left candidates.
What the next Italian government will look like is uncertain, with a possible change to the electoral law still under debate.
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was forced to resign last year as Italy's financial trouble mounted, has hinted he may run for election, but the most recent poll shows he would win just 14.5 percent of votes.
(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; editing by Andrew Roche)