Italian President Sergio Mattrella has set Italy on the course to an election in March after dissolving the country’s parliament.
The centre-left led government met after the presidential decree was made, with the election date confirmed for March 4.
Opinion polls currently suggest a tight race between the ruling centre-left Democratic Party, the anti-establishment and populist Five Star Movement and the right-wing Forza Italia, led by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The ongoing migrant crisis in Europe is set to be a major point of debate in the upcoming election campaign, with Italy experiencing the biggest influx of migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year among EU countries.
More to follow – with a look at each of the parties in the weeks to come…