Italy’s Romano Prodi has begun his campaign to oust Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in polls next year.
The former European Commission president is today expected to win the first ever primaries organised by the country’s nine left-wing parties.
It is seen as an attempt to create a united front against Berlusconi and his centre-right coalition.
Prodi is up against six other left-wing candidates, including Fausto Bertinotti, the leader of one of Italy’s two communist parties.
Experts warn that any alliance put together by Prodi would have a difficult job beating Berlusconi. They say the prime minister is set to gain most from his push to introduce an electoral system of proportional representation.
The reform poses another problem for Prodi, who does not belong to any political party. In the past he was guaranteed independence in dealing with his various allies, but under the new system, that would no longer be allowed.