Italy votes in center-left primary amid recession, austerity ahead of April elections

Italians are voting in a primary for a center-left candidate to run in spring general elections that will in large part determine how Italy's tries to fix its troubled finances and emerge from a grinding recession.

If none of the five candidates wins a majority Sunday, a runoff will be held next Sunday. The race is expected to come down to a faceoff between Pier Luigi Bersani, the 61-year-old leader of the main center-left Democratic Party, and challenger Matteo Renzi, the 37-year-old mayor of Florence.

While the candidates have been gamely campaigning and debating one another ahead of the primary, Sunday's vote has largely been overshadowed by speculation over whether ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi will run for office again, as well as the political future of Italy's current premier, Mario Monti.