Italian president Giorgio Napolitano could resign in a bid to break the country’s political stalemate, created by elections last month.
The 87-year-old is reportedly considering the move, in the wake of failed attempts to form a new government.
Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose party controls the lower house but does not have a majority in the Senate, has not been able to win enough support from other parties.
The early departure of Napolitano, whose terms ends on 15 May, would make way for new parliamentary elections.
Fresh polls would not be held for several weeks, however, leaving further uncertainty in a country which is in recession and where unemployment is at a record high.