Malta’s centre-right government has collapsed after its budget was thrown out by parliament.
Franco Debono, a member of the island’s government, joined the opposition in voting against the budget.
Debono has been a fierce critic of his own party, particularly over its decisions to hand the running of the bus system to a German company.
The ruling Party of Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had a one-seat majority in the parliament.
Opinion polls show it trailing the opposition Labour party by nine points
An election is expected to be held in March.