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Italy's President Sergio Mattarella has given the mandate to Foreign Secretary Paolo Gentiloni to try and form a new government.
Foreign Minister Mr Gentiloni was a key member of Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party.
Mr Renzi resigned on Wednesday after losing a referendum on constitutional reform on which he had staked his job.
Mr Gentiloni said he would try to form the government as soon as possible and that it would move "within the same framework" as Mr Renzi's.
"I am aware of the urgent need to give Italy a government with full powers," he said.
The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said he will resign on Wednesday evening following approval of the 2017 national budget.
He offered his resignation following defeat in Sunday's referendum on legislative changes.
But President Sergio Mattarella told Renzi to stay in office until the budget was passed in parliament.
Renzi tweeted that he plans to go to the president to resign at 7pm (1800 GMT).
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has been told to delay resigning following his defeat in Sunday's referendum.
The 41-year-old promised he would stand down if he was defeated in the referendum, which asked Italians to vote on legislative changes.
But Renzi was told by Italy's President Sergio Mattarella to put his planned resignation on hold until parliament had approved the 2017 budget - which could be done as early as Friday.
Once the budget is passed, he will be allowed to step down, a presidential statement said.
The populist 5-Star Movement says it's poised to govern Italy now that Premier Matteo Renzi has announced his resignation.
The Movement, led by comic Beppe Grillo, spearheaded the winning "No"-vote campaign in a referendum on constitutional reforms.
Grillo called for an election to be called "within a week".
Luigi Di Maio, a 5-Star leader, says the vote shows "it's the citizens who run the institutions," not one man like Renzi.
Di Maio says "starting tomorrow we'll be at work on a 5-Star government."
Renzi said the reforms would have cut Italy's bureaucracy and made the country more competitive.
His opponents were hoping to tap into the populist sentiment that has been gaining ground in Europe with Brexit and in the US with the election of Donald Trump.
Supporters of the "no" campaign in Italy's referendum on constitutional reform took to the streets to celebrate victory on Sunday night.
People chanted and waved banners in the streets of Rome in the wake of the result, which prompted Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to announce that he intends to resign.
The movement that spearheaded the winning "no" campaign in Italy's referendum has called for early elections to replace Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has said he will resign following the vote.
Leaders of the populist Five Star Movement, the main rivals to Renzi's Democrats, are anxious to achieve national power for the first time.
Alessandro Di Battista, an MP for the movement, said: "The Five Star Movement isn't the only one who won, it was a battle of most Italian citizens who rejected a constitutional reform that deprived the Italian people of the umpteen rights."
An early general election in Italy could have implications for financial markets, ITV News Europe Editor James Mates said.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said he intends to resign after being defeated in a referendum on constitutional reform.
Our correspondent said that there could be an election as soon as mid-2017.