ROME — Italy’s populist candidate for premier says he’d back an Italian exit from the euro currency zone if it were proposed in a “last-resort” referendum.

Luigi Di Maio, a 5-Star Movement lawmaker, told private TV La7 Monday he hopes negotiations with Brussels if his party comes to power would lead to changes in the eurozone rules that would make a referendum unnecessary.

But he held out the possibility as a “last resort” if such talks fail to achieve anything concrete.

The Movement has criticized the eurozone’s austerity policies and rules, which it says has stifled Italy’s economy.

Di Maio hopes to be the party’s first premier after elections expected in March 2018.

Opinion polls show the party ahead of the governing Democrats but far short of an overall majority in parliament.

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