The Italian President has to dissolved parliament, paving the way for an election on the 24th and 25th of February. Georgio Napolitano signed the decree following the resignation of caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti.
The crisis was triggered when Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right “People of Freedom” party withdrew its support.
“We have come to the end of one phase and the beginning of a new one. We will play a full part in this, to assure Italy of continuity and our commitment, both over the years and in this current parliament.” said spokesman Maurizio Gasparri.
Polls suggest the centre-left Democratic Party will end up the winner.
“Italy now deserves a second phase, based on the tough sacrifices made by Italians in the past year to rescue the country from ruin, where Berlusconi’s government brought us. Now the country deserves progressive policies and reform along the lines of a very simple principle: those who have more should give more and those who have less should give less.” spokesman Dario Francheschini told reporters.
Monti is expected to announce later on Sunday if he will run again. He has faced growing pressure to seek a second term.
Speculation has centred on him becoming the unofficial leader of a centrist coalition and returning as a minister.
But the papers seem to think he will decide not to, citing disappointing polls and concerns over the centrist parties using his name.