A former International Monetary Fund official has been asked to be Italy's new prime minister amid outrage from the country's populist parties.
Carlo Cottarelli was summoned by President Sergio Mattarella to his official Rome residence on Monday morning, in the latest attempt to solve Italy's political crisis.
He has accepted a mandate to form a technocratic and politically "neutral" government before new elections can be held by the beginning of next year.
However, Italians could be asked to return to the polls as soon as August if Mr Cottarelli does not win parliamentary support for his interim administration, the prime minister-designate admitted.
After about an hour of talks with Mr Mattarella, Mr Cottarelli said: "I'll present myself to parliament with a programme which - if it wins the backing of parliament - would include the approval of the 2019 budget.
"Then parliament would be dissolved with elections at the beginning of 2019.
"In the absence of [parliament's] confidence, the government would resign immediately and its main function would be the management of ordinary affairs until elections are held after the month of August."
Dubbed "Mr Scissors", 64-year-old Mr Cottarelli worked at the IMF from 2008 to 2013 and is known for making cuts to public spending in Italy.
Italy has been without a government since indecisive elections on 4 March, at which voters flocked to anti-establishment and far-right parties to leave a hung parliament.
The 5-Star Movement and League Nord abandoned their bid to form a coalition at the weekend after Mr Mattarella blocked their choice of a Eurosceptic economy minister.
The move led to calls for the president's impeachment from the populist parties.
The political uncertainty has prompted turbulence in financial markets amid ongoing concern at Italy's huge national debt.
Both Italian bonds and stocks turned negative later on Monday amid the prospect of fresh elections.
The 5-Star Movement and League Nord appeared on the verge of forming the first populist regime in western Europe before Mr Mattarella vetoed university professor Paolo Savona being put in charge of Italy's economy.
Mr Savona has previously said Italy needs a plan to quit the euro "if necessary" and branded the EU's single currency as a "German cage".
The president's intervention against Mr Savona prompted Giuseppe Conte - a compromise prime ministerial candidate by the populist coalition - to reject Mr Mattarella's offer to form an administration.
League leader Matteo Salvini and 5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio have made clear they will not support Mr Cottarelli's administration.
Mr Di Maio attacked ratings agencies and financial lobbies over the president's "unacceptable" action, while Mr Salvini raged that Italy wasn't a "colony" and "won't have Germany tell us what to do".
Mr Salvini also warned former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi against allowing his Forza Italia to back the technocratic government.
The League joined forces with Forza Italia ahead of March's elections, but Mr Salvini told Mr Berlusconi the alliance would collapse if he sustained Mr Cottarelli.
The League has risen in popularity since March.
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