December 13, 2013 / 7:22 PM / 7 years ago

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

Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, newly elected secretary of Democratic Party (PD), talks 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 centre-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 centre left about 7 percentage points ahead of the centre right, after trailing by almost 2 percentage points a week earlier.

The centre left would win 40.5 percent in a snap election, compared with 33.6 percent for 77-year-old Silvio Berlusconi’s centre 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 centre right - overhauling labour 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 centre-right dissidents who abandoned Berlusconi when he pulled out of the coalition last month.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Andrew Roche

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