June 1, 2015 / 12:33 AM / 5 years ago

Italy's Renzi faces tight battles in local election - exit poll

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi looks up as he waits for the arrival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, May 15, 2015. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi faces close races in two key regions at stake in local elections held on Sunday, according an exit poll, with his centre-left party leading narrowly in one and trailing in the other.

Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) candidate was estimated to win 35.5 percent to 39.5 percent in the southern region of Campania, ahead of the centre-right candidate on 33.5 percent to 37.5 percent, according to the poll conducted by the EMG agency and broadcast on private TV station La 7.

In the north-western region of Liguria the centre-left was seen trailing in third place with 21.5 percent to 25.5 percent, behind the candidate from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement with 25 to 29 percent and the centre-right candidate with 28 percent to 32 percent.

Exit polls have often proved unreliable in previous Italian elections.

Liguria and Campania are seen as the two regions most in doubt among the seven being contested in the election. The centre-left is expected to win the central regions of Tuscany, Marche and Umbria and the southern region of Puglia.

Veneto in the north-east is expected to go to the euro-sceptic, anti-immigrant Northern League.

Reporting By Gavin Jones

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