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Italy's 5-Star leader and deputy PM Luigi Di Maio wins party confidence vote

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5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio
5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio -
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Supporters of Italy's 5-Star Movement have resoundingly backed its leader Luigi Di Maio to carry on following a bruising defeat in the European parliamentary elections.

Di Maio got the backing of 80% of the 56,127 5-Star members who took part in the confidence vote on the party's online platform known as Rousseau, the movement said on its blog.

The 32-year-old Di Maio called for the ballot after 5-Star took just 17% of the vote at Sunday's European election, half the tally of its coalition partner, the far-right League, triggering internal attacks on his leadership.

The party takes many key decisions in online votes by its members and called the ballot "one of the most beautiful pages in the 5-Star Movement's history of direct democracy."

After the result was announced, Di Maio promised "a profound reorganisation" of the party and said he would present his first decisions on Friday.

Prominent 5-Star senator Gianluigi Paragone said on Wednesday that Di Maio had too much power in the party and too many roles in government.

“If you want to act like a Superman, you have to demonstrate you really are one,” he told newspaper Corriere della Sera.

As well as being 5-Star leader and deputy prime minister, thirty-two year-old Di Maio serves as industry minister and labour minister in the government formed last June.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini meanwhile, who leads the League, has ruled out early elections, dismissing talk that he would capitalise on the EU election victory to seek a power grab.

Speaking to reporters in parliament, Salvini forcefully denied the reports.