Italians have been reacting to Mario Monti’s announcement that he will join the race in February’s elections. The outgoing prime minister said on Friday that he is ready to lead a centrist coalition. It puts him in a three-way contest with the centre-left Democratic Party – and on the right, Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party. Monti says he plans to re-draw the political landscape. “The traditional left-right split has historic and symbolic value – and real meaning in terms of the distribution of income and wealth – but it does not highlight the real alliance that Italy needs: one that focuses on Europe and reforms to transform our country, using Europe as a lever and placing Italy in a position to influence the course of things in Europe,” he said. Opinion polls suggest the centre-left Democrats of Pier Luigi Bersani are on course to win a lower house majority but may have to strike a deal with centrists in the Senate. The news that Monti intends to stay around has been welcomed by some: “I am really pleased because I think he is a very serious person who has renewed the image of Italy around the world and so I am very happy. I will vote for him,” said one woman in Rome. But others are opposed: “He should have just stepped aside. His job is done, it was a technical government and that’s it,” said one man. As senator for life, Monti does not have to stand for election. He has been credited with restoring Italy’s credibility, but attacked by Berlusconi for “Germano-centric” policies.