June 5, 2016 / 9:32 PM / a year ago

Italy's 5-star has big lead in Rome mayoral election: exit polls

Roberto Giachetti (L), Democratic Party (PD) candidate for Rome's mayor, embraces Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on stage during a rally in Rome, Italy, June 1, 2016.Stefano Rellandini

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement took a large lead in the first round of voting for the mayor of Rome, according to exit polls published on Sunday, in a possible blow to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Some 13 million people, or a quarter of the adult population, were eligible to vote for mayors of around 1,300 towns and cities on Sunday, with attention focused firmly on a handful of major centers, including the Italian capital.

The 5-Star candidate in Rome, Virginia Raggi was likely to win 33-37 percent of the vote, according to the EMG pollster, followed by the centre-left's Roberto Giachetti, who is backed by Renzi, accredited with 22-26 percent.

According to the Piepoli Institute, Raggi was likely to win 34-38 percent, compared with 20-24 percent for Giachetti.

If, as polls suggest, no candidate wins more than 50 percent, run-offs between those who come first and second will be held on June 19.

The race looked closer in Italy's financial capital Milan, where EMG had center-left candidate Giuseppe Sala ahead with 38-42 percent, followed by the center-right's Stefano Parisi with 36.5-40.5 percent.

The Piepoli Institute gave Sala 41-45 percent and gave 35-39 percent to Parisi.

Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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