Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi said he’ll challenge Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the Democratic Party, in the party’s leadership primary before Italian elections, in a bid to become the country’s next prime minister.
“I am trying to change Italy, not the Democratic Party,” Renzi, 37, said today in Verona in a speech broadcast by Sky TG24 television. Italy, led by Prime Minister Mario Monti’s unelected government, is due to hold national elections by April.
The leadership challenge comes as the Democratic Party leads in most opinion polls. Renzi has a higher approval rating among all voters than Bersani, 60, though Bersani leads among members of the PD, a Sept. 10 survey by polling company Demos said.
Renzi, with an approval rating of 42.5 percent, is Italy’s second-most popular politician after Monti. Bersani registered a 31.8 percent rating, according to Demos. The same poll showed that among possible voters in a PD primary, 43.5 percent would support Bersani, while 27.7 percent would support Renzi.