It has been a bumpy journey for Italy's largest centre-left party, the Partito Democratico (PD). Since its inception last year, the party has been subject to a spate of conflicts, a series of electoral defeats and corruption investigations, and continual episodes of infighting.
Following a disappointing electoral defeat to Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's Partito della Libertà (PdL) in Sardinia, general secretary of the PD Walter Veltroni surprised Italy's political world when he announced his resignation as leader of the centre-left party.
The defeat in Sardinia was the latest in a series of regional votes that overturned the centre-left's previous government and signaled a dangerous loss of support among the electorate. Recent elections that overturned regional centre-left governments occurred in Fruili Venezia Giulia, Molise and Abruzzo.
Although the PD's executive committee unanimously refused Veltroni's resignation and asked him to stay on to lead the party through European elections this spring, Veltroni said he would not change his mind. As a result, the party expects to hold a conference this spring to elect a new leader.
The centre-right swept 56.66 percent of the vote in the latest batch of regional elections compared to 38.67 percent for the center-left. Berlusconi's PdL was the biggest winner, taking over 30 percent of the vote. The PD saw its support shrink to 25 percent, from 33 percent in last year's general elections.