ROME (Reuters) - The deputy speaker of Italy's lower house of parliament is the leading candidate to replace Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini when she moves to Brussels to become the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, two political sources said.
Marina Sereni, a member of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's center-left Democratic Party, is considered close to the 39-year-old premier and has served as the party's foreign affairs spokeswoman.
"The most credible name at the moment is Sereni's," said a source at the Farnesina palace in Rome, the headquarters of Italy's foreign ministry.
Sereni, 54, has served in the parliamentary Foreign and European Affairs commission as well as on the parliamentary security commission, the body which provides parliamentary supervision of Italy's intelligence services.
"She's a serious possibility for the Farnesina, she fits all the characteristics. Obviously there's nothing official yet, it will depend on Renzi," one PD parliamentarian said.
Sereni's appointment would allow the 16-member cabinet to retain gender parity, which Renzi has been keen to preserve as part of a drive to modernize Italy's political system.
Mogherini is due to move to Brussels in November when the new European Commission headed by former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker takes office.
(Reporting by Roberto Landucci; writing by James Mackenzie)