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Renzi resigns as party leader in bid to secure stronger mandate

Former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has resigned as Democratic Party leader in a bid to win a stronger mandate before the national election.

As promised, Renzi told fellow Democratic leaders at a meeting on Sunday that he was resigning. But he insisted he will not submit to what he called the "blackmail" of a more left-leaning faction threatening a schism if he again seeks the top party post.

The national election, due in early 2018, might come earlier if Premier Paolo Gentiloni loses control of a frequently squabbling centre-left parliamentary majority.

The populist, anti-euro 5-Star Movement aims to gain national power for the first time. It is Parliament's second-biggest party, after the Democrats, who govern in a centre-left coalition.

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