ROME: Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Monday he had accepted an offer to stand for parliament for the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in the March 4 national election. Padoan is a former economist at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) who was not aligned to any party when he joined the government in 2014. He has previously indicated he wanted to return to academia after the forthcoming ballot, but PD officials see his calm, measured approach as a potential political asset in their fight to reverse their declining poll numbers. I hope he continues to help his country. His help for us has been precious,” PD leader Matteo Renzi said in an interview published on Monday in the Quotidiano Nazionale newspaper chain. Padoan has won plaudits within the European Union for his handling of a job which has often put him at odds with European Commission officials as he has sought special budget dispensation for heavily indebted Italy. Under his watch, the country has emerged from the most punishing recession since World War Two, while employment has risen. Critics say Italy is still underperforming its eurozone peers and has failed to halt rising debt levels.