TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ Albania was without a government Monday night after Premier Pandeli Majko resigned because he lost a vote to become the Socialist Party leader earlier this month.

Majko's decision plunged this unstable, impoverished Balkan nation of 3.2 million into a new political crisis. Albania has not yet recovered from about 45 years of Communist rule that ended just eight years ago.

Majko's resignation, announced by Information Minister Musa Ulcini, also means the resignation of the entire government.

The news came immediately after the premier returned to Tirana from a visit to Bulgaria, where he met with counterpart Ivan Kostov about joint economic and infrastructure projects.

Majko explained that the current political situation in Albania and his not being elected leader of the Socialists were the reasons for his leaving office, according to Ulcini, who said Majko planned to offer his resignation to President Rexhep Meidani on Tuesday.

The Socialist Party, now led by former Communist official Fatos Nano, was expected to nominate a new candidate for prime minister. The candidate must be approved by the president, and then must chose a new government.

Majko, 33, leads the reform wing of the Socialists, and warned before the Oct. 10 vote for party leadership that he would step down as prime minister if he lost the support of the party.

Nano's victory was interpreted as a sign the former communists would continue to fight against losing power.

Nano was party leader previously, but resigned in January after having stepped down as prime minister the previous September in the wake of riots that nearly toppled his government.

The rioting broke out following the assassination of a leader of the rival Democratic Party. Berisha blamed the killing on Nano, who denied any role.