Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has had his final meeting with President Napolitano in which he formally resigned as head of the government.
The former European Commissioner was fulfilling his vow to step down after his 2013 budget was approved by parliament.
Monti who was appointed to rein in Italy’s public spending has kept his own political plans a closely guarded secret and opinion is divided if he should stand for a second term.
Italy’s lower house gave final approval to the budget by a wide margin on Friday evening. It was the last piece of business before the president dissolves parliament. The election is expected to be on February 24.