Italy's president has dissolved parliament following the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Monti, formally setting the stage for general elections in February in which Mr Monti's participation remains unclear.
President Giorgio Napolitano signed the decree after consulting with political leaders.
Mr Monti, appointed 13 months ago to steer Italy from a Greek-style debt crisis, stepped down on Friday after ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's party withdrew its support for his technical government.
He has scheduled a news conference for Sunday during which he is expected to announce whether he will run for office.
Small centrist parties have been courting Mr Monti, but Italian newspapers say he is inclined to refuse.
Polls indicate the centre-left Democratic Party will win the vote. A Monti-led ticket could deprive the Democrats of votes, but would not be expected to garner anything near a majority.