Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti tendered his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday, the president's office said, paving the way for national elections in February.
Napolitano is expected to dissolve parliament in the next few days and has already indicated that the most likely date for the election is February 24.
He will begin consultations with political leaders on Saturday to discuss the next steps, the statement said, and in the meantime he asked Monti to continue in a caretaker capacity.
Monti handed in his resignation during a brief meeting at the president's palace, shortly after parliament approved his government's 2013 budget.
© Thomson Reuters 2012