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Keeping Europe in mind, Italians choose Renzi as leader of Democratic Party
BY 2017-05-02 09:07:22

By Alessandra Cardone

ROME, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Italy's former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won secretary post of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) in an internal primary election, indicating the ruling PD will fight for the next national elections under the control of Ranzi, who will again play decisive part in Italian politics.

According to the final results published on Monday, Renzi won 70.01 percent of votes in the internal voting of 1.85 million people in the PD primary election on Sunday.

His two contenders, current Justice Minister Andrea Orlando and governor of Puglia region Michele Emiliano, were left far behind with 19.5 percent and 10.4 percent of votes, respectively.

The primaries' result propels Renzi back in a prominent position within Italy's national politics, since the new secretary will lead the PD -- a pro-European force now ruling Italy's center-left cabinet -- into the next general elections due in spring 2018 in the latest.

Italians actively picked up the next leader of center-left PD in the party's primary election because it was likely to impact on the country's politics, and possibly also on Italy's stand in Europe.

Renzi was seen as the favorite against his two challengers, Orlando Emiliano, since the winner would lead the party into the next general elections, when the Democrats -- now major force in a center-left cabinet -- will face the tough competition of anti-establishment and euro-skeptic Five Star Movement (M5S).

Among those waiting before makeshifts gazebos spread across the Italian capital, many seemed aware the outcome of the vote might have reverberations in this perspective.

"These (PD) primaries may be relevant in European terms, indeed," Fabio, a 50-year-old architect and artist, told Xinhua in the historic center of Rome, where he cast his vote for Renzi.

"We are living through a phase in which Europe is at risk due to people who are either against the euro or against the European Union (EU) overall."

"As such, it is important to have a strong (pro-European) party, and a leader, able to stand against this trend," he said.

For Enzo De Filippi, another voter, a strong PD led by "the vision of Matteo Renzi" would also benefit Europe.

"He has undoubtedly a pro-European vision, but also a critical idea of what EU member states should do or not," the man said.

"Italy is bearing the major burden of the immigration flows to Europe, for example, and our EU partners should help somehow."

The turnout was a key factor for the PD, which has appeared weakened and much fractured in latest months, and for the legitimacy of Renzi. As much as Renzi was expected to receive a fresh mandate, his political strength as party leader just depends on popular support for him.

In the last PD primaries in Dec. 2013, over 2.8 million voters were registered, with Renzi taking some 67.5 percent of the ballots, according to the PD's data.

Since then, however, he had to quit from the prime minister office in December 2016 after a harsh defeat on a constitutional reform he had strongly advocated, and stepped down as PD secretary a few months later.

"For me, casting (my) vote is most of all a signal of participation and interest (in the country's political life), not just for us but for our children," Anna, a 52-year-old lawyer, told Xinhua.

The woman stressed the most important thing for the PD was to avoid giving an image of a fractured party, which would alienate new possible supporters.

"Surely, these (PD) primaries have implications on the EU: we are in Europe, and we have to remain in it. Building walls or borders in a globalized world makes no sense to me," she said.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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