Italian Democrats picking party chief; Renzi expected to win

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.