Italy's president and party leaders have failed in another round of talks to end five weeks of political deadlock over forming a new government.
The nation had been waiting to see if President Giorgio Napolitano had chosen someone new on Friday to try to forge a viable coalition after inconclusive election results last month.
But Mr Napolitano's office said the head of state was taking more time to find a way out of the impasse.
Analysts said Mr Napolitano will most likely ask a figure outside of partisan politics to put together a government that can last long enough to enact economic and electoral reform before new elections are called.
Parliament is largely split in three blocs, each without enough seats to govern alone.
On Thursday, the centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani said talks to form a new government have failed. Mr Napolitano had asked him to conduct the talks last week but Mr Bersani said the talks failed because of "unacceptable" demands of other parties.