Europe

Italian Democrats picking party chief; Renzi expected to win

  • Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala casts his ballot  for the Democratic party's primary elections, in Milan, Italy, Sunday, April 30, 2017. The three candidates are former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, Governor of Apulia region, Michele Emiliano, and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. (Matteo Bazzi/ANSA via AP)

    Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala casts his ballot for the Democratic party's primary elections, in Milan, Italy, Sunday, April 30, 2017. The three candidates are former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, Governor of Apulia region, Michele Emiliano, and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. (Matteo Bazzi/ANSA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • People vote for Democratic party's primary elections, in Bologna, Italy, Sunday, April 30, 2017. The three candidates are former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, Governor of Apulia region, Michele Emiliano, and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. (Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA via AP)

    People vote for Democratic party's primary elections, in Bologna, Italy, Sunday, April 30, 2017. The three candidates are former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, Governor of Apulia region, Michele Emiliano, and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. (Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman checks her ballot as she prepares to vote for Democratic party's primary elections, in Bologna, Italy, Sunday, April 30, 2017.  The three candidates are former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, Governor of Apulia region, Michele Emiliano, and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. (Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA via AP)

    A woman checks her ballot as she prepares to vote for Democratic party's primary elections, in Bologna, Italy, Sunday, April 30, 2017. The three candidates are former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, Governor of Apulia region, Michele Emiliano, and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. (Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Italians are voting for a new leader of the Democratic Party in a primary expected to give ex-head Matteo Renzi a new mandate.

Citizens lined up at makeshift gazebos set up around the country Sunday. It was unclear when results will be announced.

Renzi quit as leader of the fractured party after a national referendum defeat on reforms he championed while premier also forced him to resign the premiership in December.

Challenging him in the primary are Justice Minister Andrea Orlando and Michele Emiliano, governor of the southern Puglia region.

The Democrats face a stiff challenge from the populist 5-Star Movement in a national election due in early 2018 at the latest.

Left-wing hardliners split from the Democrats and formed a new party, resenting Renzi's authoritarian style and centrist leanings.