Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has resigned after just 10 tumultuous months at the head of a fragile coalition with the centre-right in which he struggled with a rampant economic crisis.
Letta submitted his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday after his own Democratic Party overwhelmingly backed a motion by its new leader Renzi calling for a new government.
Napolitano will now begin consultations with political leaders to pick a nominee to replace Letta, which the presidency said would conclude on Saturday.
The resignation paves the way for 39-year-old centre-left leader Matteo Renzi to take the helm of Italy's third government in less than a year.
Renzi, who is the mayor of Florence, still faces delicate days ahead before he can finally clinch his goal of becoming the European Union's youngest prime minister and Italy's youngest ever government leader.
Whatever the difficulties, analysts say a new Renzi government could be sworn in as early as next week.
Known for his informal style and his catchphrases, Renzi enjoys high ratings in the opinion polls because he is seen as a relative political outsider but his leadership has been criticised as brash and divisive.
Renzi has never been in government or parliament although he has extensive experience in local administration in and around Florence, where he has been praised for lowering taxes and promoting recycling.
Stocks on Friday jumped up 1.6 percent as Letta resigned, also thanks to new data showing that the economy grew by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.
The result was the first positive one for gross domestic product in two years after Italy's longest post-war recession ended in the third quarter.