Ex-PM Renzi expected to win as Italian Democrats elect new leader | News | DW | 30.04.2017
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Ex-PM Renzi expected to win as Italian Democrats elect new leader

Voters in Italy have lined up to elect a new leader of the Democratic Party (PD). Former Prime Minister and ex-PD head Matteo Renzi is expected to win after he quit following a national referendum defeat.

Italians headed to the polls on Sunday to elect a leader for the ruling Democratic Party (PD). Although there are three contenders, ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is expected to win by a landslide.

Citizens lined up at makeshift gazebos around the country to vote in the PD primary which is taking place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (0600 - 1800 GMT). It is unclear when results will be announced.

The other contenders in the race are Justice Minister Andrea Orlando and Michele Emiliano, governor of the southern Puglia region.

An Ipsos poll published on Friday by the "Corriere della Sera" newspaper predicted a 75 percent sweep for Renzi, with Orlando picking up 18.2 percent and 6.8 percent for Emiliano. The poll noted that voter turnout is expected to be low - a reflection of voter apathy.

Renzi quit as the leader of the fractured PD after a national referendum defeat on reforms he supported. He also quit as premier following the vote, but reneged on a promise to retire from public life.

Should Renzi come out on top of Sunday's vote, he will then face off with the populist 5-Star Movement (M5S) in a general election which is due by early 2018.

Following the referendum defeat, left-wing hardliners split from the Democrats and formed a new party, weakening the PD. The M5S, on the other hand, has consolidated a polling lead.

rs/cl (AP, AFP, dpa)