December 12, 2016 / 1:59 PM / 7 months ago

Italy's Renzi says elections should be held as soon as possible

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File picture shows Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (R) and Italy's newly elected president Sergio Mattarella as they arrive at the Unknown Soldier's monument in central Rome, February 3, 2015.Remo Casilli/Files

ROME (Reuters) - Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Monday that fresh elections should be held as quickly as possible, even as his successor held consultations with parties to put together a new government.

Renzi resigned last week after losing a referendum over his plans to reform the constitution, and on Sunday the head of state asked his foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni to take over and try to form a government.

"We hope to go to the polls as soon as possible," Renzi told a meeting of his Democratic Party (PD).

Gentiloni has held consultations with most of the parties in parliament and said he would see President Sergio Mattarella later in the day, when he was widely expected to announce that he had the necessary parliamentary majority.

The PD's representative, lower house leader Ettore Rosato, said after his meeting with Gentiloni that the party would back his efforts but that the legislature had "lost its impetus" and that new elections should be held "soon."

Reporting by Antonella Cinelli, Writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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