Italy is in line for a re-run of its 1996 election and a showdown between Romano Prodi and Silvio Berlusconi.
It follows Prodi’s overwhelming triumph in the country’s first ever primary vote to select a candidate for a general election.
Prodi won 75 percent of the vote. His nearest rival was a veteran communist leader who took just 15 percent.
Prodi led the centre-left to victory in 1996 and he will be hoping to do the same in the coming election due by next May.
He said the primary result sent out a clear, unequivocal indication: “All disputes are now resolved by the facts,” he added.
However the importance of the weekend result has been partially undermined by government moves to reform Italy’s election system.
The reform, which is set to be approved by parliament soon, will introduce a complex form of proportional representation that critics say is designed to help Berlusconi stay in power.
The premier says it will make the electoral system more democratic.