Italy's president has dissolved parliament, the first step toward new elections.
President Giorgio Napolitano gave the order on Saturday, Reuters reported, a day after caretaker prime minister Mario Monti resigned.
Monti had announced his exit almost two weeks earlier, saying it was impossible to continue after Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom party withdrew its support for Monti's technocrat government.
Monti waited only to ensure that parliament approved his 2013 budget, which it did in a vote on Friday.
He hasn't yet revealed whether he will run in the upcoming election, though his centrist allies have been urging him to do so.
As GlobalPost has reported, many people credit Monti with saving Italy from economic ruin and restoring much-needed market confidence.
According to the Associated Press, he is due to give a press conference on Sunday at which he will most likely announce his intentions.
Berlusconi, the three-time former prime minister forced to resign amid financial chaos last November, recently confirmed that he would make another bid for office.
Berlusconi has already warned Monti against running, telling him the move would be "morally questionable," Reuters said.
Observers say a hard-fought campaign risks dragging Monti into partisan politics and, depending on which party he is aligned with, splitting the moderate vote.
Italy's election is expected in late February.