Italy center-left picks candidate for next prime minister

November 25, 2012 01:27

ROME - Italian center-left voters head to the polls on Sunday to choose the candidate who will be the leading contender to succeed Mario Monti as prime minister after a general election in March.

Opinion surveys show Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani is front-runner among five candidates, followed by youthful Florence mayor Matteo Renzi, who has vowed to shake up Italy's political establishment if he is chosen.

Voting booths will be open from 08:00 to 20:00 local time (07:00 GMT to 19:00 GMT) with results due around midnight (23:00 GMT). About 3 million party and non-party voters are expected to take part.

Bersani may fail to secure the 50 percent he needs for a first-round victory, which will mean a second round run-off will be held on December 2 to decide who will lead an alliance that is well ahead in opinion polls for the next election.

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