New leader Renzi boosts support for Italy's main ruling party

Reuters
Florence Mayor Renzi, newly elected secretary of Democratic Party (PD), listens to reporter question during a news conference in Rome
Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, newly elected secretary of Democratic Party (PD), listens to reporter question during a news conference in Rome December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

ROME (Reuters) - The election of Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi as the new leader of Italy's center-left Democratic Party (PD), the biggest in the ruling coalition, has boosted support for the bloc by six percentage points nationally, a poll showed on Friday.

The brash, 38-year-old Renzi's landslide victory in a primary ballot on Sunday lifted support to 35.6 percent for the PD this week, from 29.6 percent a week earlier, polling institute SWG said.

That put the center left about 7 percentage points ahead of the center right, after trailing by almost 2 percentage points a week earlier.

The center left would win 40.5 percent in a snap election, compared with 33.6 percent for 77-year-old Silvio Berlusconi's center right, SWG said.

Renzi, long seen as a PD outsider, has railed against the old-guard leadership and political waste over the past two years, making him into one of the country's most popular politicians.

His platform is based on tax cuts - traditionally a policy of the center right - overhauling labor rules and eliminating public funding for political parties.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who is also a member of the PD, won two confidence votes this week after pledging economic and institutional reforms, saying he aimed to keep his government alive until at least 2015.

Letta's coalition government depends on the support of center-right dissidents who abandoned Berlusconi when he pulled out of the coalition last month.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Andrew Roche)