The electoral victory of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League last Spring, provoked a crisis in the center-left Democratic Party.
The party remained practically without leadership for a long period. Maurizio Martina, a close ally of the former President of the Democratic Party and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who replaced him after the elections, worked as an acting Secretary until November 2018.
Today the party chooses the new leader. It is estimated that 1.7m people will participate in the process.
There are three leadership candidates: Nicola Zingaretti, Roberto Giachetti, and Maurizio Martina.
Zingaretti, 53, represents the most radical and left-oriented tendency inside the party. He is currently the president of the Lazio region and has experience in European affairs since he served as Member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2008. A member of the defunct Italian Communist Party, he supports European integration and he repeatedly condemned austerity measures.
Giachetti, 57, is considered a political ally of Matteo Renzi. He is free-market oriented and came to the party from the Radical and Green political environment. In 2016, he was a candidate for Rome’s mayoral elections but he lost to Virginia Raggi, a member of the M5S.
Martina, although the youngest of the three candidates has government experience since he served as Agriculture minister in the governments of Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni.
The new leader will be elected if one of the candidates receive more than 50% of the vote, otherwise, a special party conference on March 17 will vote for one of the top two candidates.