The Straits Times
Published on Dec 03, 2012

Bersani wins Italy's centre-left candidacy


ROME (AFP) - Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani emerged as a favourite to be Italy's next prime minister after early results showed him winning a centre-left primary on Sunday ahead of a general election.

The 61-year-old former communist party man and two-time government minister who spearheaded a liberalisation programme while in office appears to have beaten off his rival, Florence's charismatic 37-year-old mayor Matteo Renzi.

Mr Bersani was ahead with 60.83 per cent against 39.17 per cent for Mr Renzi with more than half the votes counted from thousands of polling stations.

Final results are expected to be announced on Monday but Mr Renzi conceded defeat early with a Twitter message saying: "It was right to give it a try."