Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said he would go before parliament on Wednesday for a confidence vote after ministers in Silvio Berlusconi's center-right party pulled out of his government at the weekend.
Letta said he wanted to avoid elections under the current widely criticised voting system which he said would produce more stalemate but said there were signs that dissenters in Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party could support him in a confidence vote.
"I hope that there is a part of the PDL which is not in accord with Berlusconi,'' he told RAI state television.
President Giorgio Napolitano said he would only dissolve parliament as a last resort but just seven months after the last vote it is not clear if an alternative majority can be found.
Berlusconi, the center-right former prime minister who was forced out of office in November 2011 at the height of the euro zone debt crisis and faces a ban from parliament for tax fraud, has already launched his election campaign.
Infighting among the left-right coalition government has thwarted efforts to push through reforms Italy needs to emerge from a two-year recession, a 2-trillion-euro public debt and youth unemployment of around 40 percent.
The political paralysis resulting from the government's collapse will delay those reforms even further in the euro zone's third largest but most sluggish economy.