ROME, Nov 25 (Reuters) - The head of Italy's Democratic
Party, Pier Luigi Bersani, was in the lead after the primary to
choose the main centre-left candidate in next year's national
election, ahead of his main rival, Matteo Renzi, according to an
exit poll on Sunday.
The exit survey by the Piepoli polling institute for RAI
News 24, showed Bersani with 44 percent support, Renzi with 36
percent, and Nichi Vendola, governor of the southern region of
Puglia on 16 percent.
Bersani, 61, had been favourite to win the race before
voting began on Sunday, in part because of his control of the
Democratic Party (PD) machine and his support among the party's
However a stronger-than-expected turnout in the primary,
which was not restricted to PD members, increased expectations
that Renzi, the 37 year-old mayor of Florence, would do well
because of his appeal to voters outside the party.
Results are expected later on Sunday evening. If none of the
five candidates in the primary wins an absolute majority after
Sunday's vote, a run-off vote between the two leaders will be
held on Dec. 2.
(Reporting by Catherine Hornby and James Mackenzie; Editing by