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Italy's centre-left PD to hold MP-candidate primaries

Party favourite to win upcoming elections

Italy's centre-left PD to hold MP-candidate primaries

Rome, December 12 - The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) said Wednesday that it will hold primaries to select its candidates to be members of parliament in the upcoming Italian general election. The PD is favourite to win the elections, which look set to take place in mid-to-late February, as it leads in the polls, with around 30% of people surveyed saying they intend to vote for it. The party's strong current position in the polls was helped by the successful recent primary in which PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani was selected as the centre left's premier candidate. Over three million people voted in the first round and around 2.8 million participated in the runoff between Bersani and Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi in a contest hailed as a victory for democracy inside the PD. It was also portrayed as a signal that Italy's party system does have a healthy side after questions were raised about the political class's effectiveness when it had to resort to letting an administration of unelected technocrats take over power under Premier Mario Monti last year to steer the country away from the centre of the eurozone crisis. A series of corruption scandals hitting parties from various parts of the party spectrum has also contributed to widespread skepticism. "If the elections take place on February 17, we'll hold the primaries on December 29-30," said Enrico Letta, the deputy leader of the PD. "On Monday the party executive will settle the details, but we have decided to call on millions of citizens, on the basis of the primary of November 25, to choose our parliamentarians. "We want to keep playing in attack because that's how you win the elections". Part of the logic of holding MP primaries is that it will give back voters the power to select their representatives that has been taken away from them by the current much-criticised election law. Under the current system, voters cannot express preferences about which of the candidates on any given party list they want to go to parliament. They can only vote for the party itself. This means party bosses effectively decide who will go to parliament by setting the order in which candidates feature on the lists. Negotiations between parties on a new election law broke down this year and the parties look set to go to the polls with the old system, even though almost everyone accepts it is flawed. photo: PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani.

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