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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks during a media conference after a referendum on constitutional reform at Chigi palace in Rome, Italy, December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

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MILAN (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Sunday it is up to his successor to decide whether Italy should hold its next national election before the natural end of the current legislature early next year.

"The elections are envisaged in February 2018. Fullstop. If (Prime Minister Paolo) Gentiloni wants to vote before, it's up to him to decide, not others," Renzi said during a talk show on state TV channel Rai3.

Renzi quit as premier in December after a crushing defeat in a referendum on his constitutional reform drive and handed over the reins of power to his political ally Gentiloni.

He had earlier called for national elections to be brought forward to June from the scheduled 2018 date, eager for a swift return to high office. With that in mind, he wanted to wrap up his ruling Democratic Party's (PD) leadership vote in early April to enable a snap ballot.

However, the PD said on Friday that it would hold its leadership contest only on April 30, a decision that effectively rules out any snap national election in June.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak)

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