Rome, Dec 23: Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has dissolved the country's parliament, the latest development in the ongoing political crisis.
Parliamentary elections are likely to be held Feb 24, 2013, as under Italian law a date for the vote should be set within 70 days of the dissolution of parliament.
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has already declared his intention to take part in the elections.
On Saturday, Napolitano met representatives of the country's parliamentary political parties and groups at his Quirinal Palace residence. The dissolution of parliament was the only way out of the situation, he said.
Prime Minister Mario Monti announced his intention to resign Dec 8, several days after Berlusconi's People of Freedom party made it clear they would no longer support the technocratic government that formed following Berlusconi's resignation in November 2011.
In the days that followed, Berlusconi launched repeated attacks on Monti's policies, accusing him of damaging the country's economy and even of implementing policies that benefit third countries, such as Germany.
Monti resigned Dec 21, claiming that he was keeping his word - stepping down once parliament had passed his controversial austerity budget.