Gentiloni seen as Italy's most trusted political leader: poll

ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni remains Italy’s most trusted leader while the 5-Star Movement’s Luigi Di Maio has moved into second place, overtaking former premier Matteo Renzi for the first time, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni takes part in an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium October 20, 2017. REUTERS/Julien Warnand/Pool

The Ixe survey of the leaders of the main parties said 39 percent of voters had confidence in Gentiloni, who took office in December after Renzi resigned following defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform.

Italy is due to hold national elections by May and Renzi says he will be candidate for prime minister for his Democratic Party (PD). Gentiloni, also a PD member, is expected to fall back into the ranks when parliament is dissolved.

Some 27 percent said they had faith in Renzi, against 32 percent backing for Di Maio, who was picked to be the prime ministerial candidate for the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in September, boosting his profile and standing.

In the last Ixe leadership survey in August, Gentiloni had an approval rating of 32 percent, Renzi was on 25 percent and Di Maio on 18 percent.

“People probably find Gentiloni’s composure reassuring,” Roberto Weber, who carried out the Ixe poll, told Rai Radio.

Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of the Northern League party, had a rating of 27 percent, and Giorgia Meloni, head of the rightist Brothers of Italy party, was on 26 percent.

Their ally Silvio Berlusconi, who sees himself as the natural head of the centre-right bloc, was adrift on 21 percent.

In the previous survey, he and Meloni were both on 17 percent.

Opinion polls put the 5-Star and PD parties roughly neck-and-neck on around 27 percent, with the Northern League on 15 percent, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party on around 13 percent and Brothers of Italy on just under 4 percent.

A new electoral system voted into law last month is likely to produce a hung parliament at the forthcoming ballot, with no one party or coalition coming anywhere close to winning enough seats to govern alone.

Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by John Stonestreet