Mario Monti, cited as possible successor to Italy's outgoing prime minister, has been named a senator for life, a move some said was a sign that he will lead the next government in Rome.
Wednesday's nomination by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano shows that Monti is the president's only choice to succeed Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister, according to political commentator Enrico Mentana.
The move "re-enforces the hypothesis that (Monti) will be the one to lead a government at a high technical and institutional level, which seems to me the only solution to this dramatic situation", said Giuliano Cazzola, a lawmaker from Berlusconi's PDL party.
In a statement from the presidency, Napolitano said the nomination was based on Monti's "merits in the social and scientific domains", adding that the Berlusconi co-signed the nomination form.
Monti, a 68-year-old economist, is now the director of Milan's prestigious Bocconi University --- considered the training ground for Italy's financial elite.
Monti was put forward as European commissioner in 1994 by Berlusconi's first government and stayed on in Brussels even after Massimo D'Alema took over as prime minister -- burnishing his image as being above party politics.