ROME Feb 13 Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
said on Monday he wanted to hold a leadership contest in his
ruling Democratic Party (PD), looking for a showdown with his
many critics in the group ahead any parliamentary elections.
Renzi stepped down as prime minister in December after
losing a referendum on constitutional reform and wants early
elections this year in an effort to regain power.
However, his drive for national ballot has been slowed by
calls from within the faction-riddled PD for him to step aside
as party secretary, a post he has held since December 2013.
"I think it's common sense to accept the idea of holding a
Congress before a national vote," Renzi told PD bigwigs,
referring to the assembly where the party leader is elected. "A
cycle is closing in the leadership of the PD," he said.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, editing by Steve Scherer)