Italy’s Renzi defies foes

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Party (PD) on Sunday, triggering a leadership battle in which he will take on rivals threatening to split the center-left. Renzi quit as prime minister in December after losing a referendum on constitutional reform, but is eager to return to power and is pushing for national elections to be held this year rather than early 2018 as scheduled. Renzi did not say when the leadership ballot would be held, but allies say he is keen to hold it before local elections in June, fearing that defeat for the PD then could sink his chances. Recent opinion polls have put the PD neck and neck with the 5-Star Movement, founded by comedian Beppe Grillo, which wants a referendum on Italy’s euro membership.

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