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Darling of Italy's M5S up against no-hopers for party leadership

Europe
19.09.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rome (dpa) - Italy‘s main opposition party is facing criticism for organizing "pathetic" leadership primaries in which seven outsiders are competing with clear favourite Luigi Di Maio.

Di Maio, a 31-year-old deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament, has long been tipped as the next leader and prime ministerial candidate of anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

After his potential rivals backed out of the race, the party said late on Monday that a M5S senator and six local activists would also run in the contest. None are known to the wider public.

"Primaries for one, with seven extras," the pro-M5S newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano wrote Tuesday, while the anti-M5S Il Foglio said it was a race between "Di Maio and the seven dwarfs."

But the party insisted the contest was truly open, and said on its blog: "Newspapers will use any excuse to badmouth the M5S."

Crime writer and commentator Roberto Saviano threw his hat into the ring with a Facebook post, offering to help the M5S "out of a pathetic situation," but he was unlikely to be taken seriously.

Voting for the primaries is due to take place online, and is restricted to M5S members. The result is expected to be announced on Saturday at a party conference in Rimini, a beach resort.

Founded by comedian Beppe Grillo in 2009, the M5S leads national opinion polls ahead of elections due next year, but its refusal to ally with other parties is an obstacle to its government ambitions.

 

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