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Italy's former prime minister Matteo Renzi throws down the gauntlet

Matteo Renzi tells his ruling Democratic Party he wants a leadership contest before any national vote

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Italy's former prime minister Matteo Renzi throws down the gauntlet

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Italy’s former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has thrown down the gauntlet to his ruling Democratic Party, telling them he wants a leadership contest before any national vote.

His announcement paves the way for a power struggle against his many critics within the fractured party.

He said: “I, for my character, always choose the challenge of the open seas and not the swamp of internal equilibrium for which I am not adapted. If you want that, choose someone else.”

Renzi stepped down in December after losing a referendum on constitutional reform.

He wants early elections, but his calls for a national ballot has been slowed by those who want him to step aside as party secretary.