Giuseppe Conte, who was due to become Italy’s new prime minister, has given up his candidacy after failing to form a government.
The 53-year-old was picked for the post as a compromise candidate of the two largest parties – the Eurosceptic 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League – following the election on 4 March.
It had resulted in a hung parliament.
Mr Conte, a lawyer by trade, said in an address on Sunday: “Good evening everyone. As you have already heard I have rejected the mandate to form a government that was offered to me by President Mattarella.
“I thank the President for giving me the mandate on 23 May and I thank the people from the main political forces, Luigi di Maio from the 5-Star Movement and Matteo Salvini from the League to have put my name forward.
“I can assure you I have used maximum efforts and attention for this task and I can assure you that I have worked in a climate of maximum collaboration with those political forces. Thank you everyone.”