Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Politics of Italy

Politics of Italy

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Politics of Italy'
Start a new discussion about 'Politics of Italy'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The politics of Italy is conducted through a parliamentary, democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 with a multi-party system
Multi-party system
A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally...

. Executive power
Executive Power
Executive Power is Vince Flynn's fifth novel, and the fourth to feature Mitch Rapp, an American agent that works for the CIA as an operative for a covert counter terrorism unit called the "Orion Team."-Plot summary:...

 is exercised collectively by the Council of Ministers, which is led by the President of the Council of Ministers
Prime minister of Italy
The Prime Minister of Italy is the head of government of the Italian Republic...

, referred to as "Presidente del Consiglio" in Italian. Legislative power is vested in the two houses of parliament
Parliament of Italy
The Parliament of Italy is the national parliament of Italy. It is a bicameral legislature with 945 elected members . The Chamber of Deputies, with 630 members is the lower house. The Senate of the Republic is the upper house and has 315 members .Since 2005, a party list electoral law is being...

 primarily, and secondarily on the Council of Ministers. The judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 is independent of the executive and the legislative branches. Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 has been a democratic republic since 2 June 1946, when the monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 was abolished by popular referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 (see birth of the Italian Republic
Birth of the Italian Republic
The Italian constitutional referendum which officially took place on 2 June 1946, is a key event of Italian contemporary history. Until 1946, Italy was a kingdom ruled by the House of Savoy, kings of Italy since the Risorgimento and previously rulers of Savoy...

). The constitution
Constitution of Italy
The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 13 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947...

 was promulgated on 1 January 1948.

The current President of Italy is Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano is an Italian politician who has been the 11th President of Italy since 2006. A long-time member of the Italian Communist Party and later the Democrats of the Left, he served as President of the Chamber of Deputies from 1992 to 1994 and as Minister of the Interior from 1996 to...

 and current Prime Minister of Italy
Prime minister of Italy
The Prime Minister of Italy is the head of government of the Italian Republic...

 is Mario Monti
Mario Monti
Mario Monti is an Italian economist and academic who is Prime Minister of Italy, as well as Minister of Economy and Finance, since November 2011. Monti served as a European Commissioner from 1995 to 2004, with responsibility for the Internal Market, Services, Customs and Taxation from 1995 to 1999...

.

Government


The 1948 Constitution of Italy
Constitution of Italy
The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 13 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947...

 establishes the parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

, an executive branch (cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

), headed by the President of the Council (prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

), and an independent judicial branch headed by the 'Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura'. The President is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, though his position is separate from all branches

Head of State



As the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, the President of the Republic represents the unity of the nation and has many of the duties previously given to the king of Italy
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

. The president serves as a point of connection between the three branches: he is elected by the lawmakers, he appoints the executive, and is the president of the judiciary. The president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The President of the Republic is elected by Parliament in joint session, together with three representatives of each region (except for the Aosta Valley, which gets only one representative) in such a way as to guarantee representation to minorities. His election needs a wide majority that is progressively reduced from two-thirds to one-half plus one of the votes as the ballots progress. The only Presidents ever to be elected on the first ballot are Francesco Cossiga
Francesco Cossiga
Francesco Cossiga was an Italian politician, the 43rd Prime Minister and the eighth President of the Italian Republic. He was also a professor of constitutional law at the University of Sassari....

 and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
dr. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi is an Italian politician and banker. He was the 73rd Prime Minister of Italy from 1993 to 1994 and was the tenth President of the Italian Republic from 1999 to 2006...

. Mr. Ciampi was replaced by Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano is an Italian politician who has been the 11th President of Italy since 2006. A long-time member of the Italian Communist Party and later the Democrats of the Left, he served as President of the Chamber of Deputies from 1992 to 1994 and as Minister of the Interior from 1996 to...

, who was elected on 10 May 2006. While it is not forbidden by law, no president has ever served two terms.

Usually, the President tries to stay out of the political debate, and to be an institutional guarantee for all those involved in the political process. The president can also reject openly anti-constitutional acts as the guardian of the Constitution of Italy
Constitution of Italy
The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 13 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947...

. :)

Legislative branch


Judicial branch


The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

, the Napoleonic code
Napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified...

 and later statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

s. It is based on a mix of the adversarial
Adversarial system
The adversarial system is a legal system where two advocates represent their parties' positions before an impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, who attempt to determine the truth of the case...

 and inquisitorial
Inquisitorial system
An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense...

 civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 systems, although the adversarial system
Adversarial system
The adversarial system is a legal system where two advocates represent their parties' positions before an impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, who attempt to determine the truth of the case...

 was adopted in the Appeal Courts in 1988. Appeals are treated almost as new trials, and three degrees of trial are present. The third is a legitimating trial.

There is only partial judicial review
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

 of legislation in the American sense. Judicial review exists under certain conditions in the Constitutional Court
Constitutional Court of Italy
The Constitutional Court of Italy is a supreme court of Italy, the other being the Court of Cassation. Sometimes the name Consulta is used as a metonym for it, because its sessions are held in Palazzo della Consulta in Rome....

, or Corte Costituzionale, which can reject anti-constitutional laws after scrutiny.

The Constitutional Court is composed of 15 judges one of which is the President of the Italian Constitutional Court elected from the court itself. One third of the judges are appointed by the President of the Italian Republic
President of the Italian Republic
The President of the Italian Republic is the head of state of Italy and, as such, is intended to represent national unity and guarantee that Italian politics comply with the Constitution. The president's term of office lasts for seven years....

, one-third are elected by Parliament and one-third are elected by the ordinary and administrative supreme courts. The Constitutional Court passes on the constitutionality of laws, and is a post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 innovation. Its powers, case load, and frequency of decisions are not as extensive as those of the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

.

Italy has not accepted compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

.

Political parties and elections



All Italian citizens older than 18 can vote. However, to vote for the senate, the voter must be at least 25 or older.

Chamber of Deputies


Senate of the Republic


Political parties


Italy's dramatic self-renewal transformed the political landscape between 1992 and 1997. Scandal investigations touched thousands of politicians, administrators, and businessmen; the shift from a proportional to an Additional Member System
Additional Member System
The Additional Member System is the term used in the United Kingdom for the mixed member proportional representation voting system used in Scotland, Wales and the London Assembly....

 (with the requirement to obtain a minimum of 4% of the national vote to obtain representation) also altered the political landscape.

Party changes were sweeping. The Christian Democratic party dissolved; the Italian People's Party and the Christian Democratic Center emerged. Other major parties, such as the Socialists, saw support plummet. A new liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 movement, Forza Italia
Forza Italia
Forza Italia was a liberal-conservative, Christian democratic, and liberal political party in Italy, with a large social democratic minority, that was led by Silvio Berlusconi, four times Prime Minister of Italy....

, gained wide support among moderate voters. The Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance) broke from the (alleged neo-fascist) Italian Social Movement
Italian Social Movement
The Italian Social Movement , and later the Italian Social Movement–National Right , was a neo-fascist and post-fascist political party in Italy. Formed in 1946 by supporters of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, the party became the fourth largest party in Italy by the early 1960s...

 (MSI). A trend toward two large coalitions (one on the center-left and the other on the center-right) emerged from the April 1995 regional elections. For the 1996 national elections, the center-left parties created the Olive Tree coalition while the center-right united again under the House of Freedoms
House of Freedoms
The House of Freedoms , was a major Italian centre-right political and electoral alliance led by Silvio Berlusconi. It was initially composed of several political parties:*Forza Italia *National Alliance...

. These coalitions continued into the 2001 and 2006 national elections.
This emerging bipolarity represents a major break from the fragmented, multi-party political landscape of the postwar era, although it appears to have reached a plateau, since efforts via referendums to further curtail the influence of small parties were defeated in 1999, 2000, and 2009.

History of the post-war political landscape




First Republic


There have been frequent government turnovers since 1945, indeed there have been 61 governments in this time. The dominance of the Christian Democratic
Christian Democracy (Italy)
Christian Democracy was a Christian democratic party in Italy. It was founded in 1943 as the ideological successor of the historical Italian People's Party, which had the same symbol, a crossed shield ....

 party during much of the postwar period lent continuity and comparative stability to Italy's political situation, mainly dominated by the attempt of keeping the Italian Communist Party
Italian Communist Party
The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.The PCI was founded as Communist Party of Italy on 21 January 1921 in Livorno, by seceding from the Italian Socialist Party . Amadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. Outlawed during the Fascist regime, the party played...

 (PCI) out of power, to maintain Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 equilibrium in the region.

The communists were in the government only in the national unity governments before 1948, in which their party's secretary Palmiro Togliatti
Palmiro Togliatti
Palmiro Togliatti was an Italian politician and leader of the Italian Communist Party from 1927 until his death.-Early life:...

 was minister of Justice. After the first democratic elections
Italian general election, 1948
The Italian elections of 1948 were the second democratic elections with universal suffrage ever held in Italy, taking place after the 1946 elections to the Constituent Assembly, responsible for drawing up a new Italian Constitution...

 with universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 in 1948, in which the Christian Democracy and their allies won against the Popular front of the Italian Communist and Socialists
Italian Socialist Party
The Italian Socialist Party was a socialist and later social-democratic political party in Italy founded in Genoa in 1892.Once the dominant leftist party in Italy, it was eclipsed in status by the Italian Communist Party following World War II...

 parties, the communist party never returned in the government.

Even though many repeat the cliché
Cliché
A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning,...

 that Italy had over fifty governments in its first fifty years of democracy to stigmatise its alleged political instability, Italy's main political problem was actually the opposite: in all the course of the so-called First Republic, the government was in the hands of the Christian Democrats and their allies, since it was unacceptable for a communist party to rule a western country during the Cold war
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. The system had been nicknamed the imperfect bipolarism, referring to more proper bipolarism in other western countries (the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 etc.) where right-wing and left-wing parties alternated in government.

The Socialists enter the Government


The main event in the First Republic in the sixties was the inclusion of the Socialist party in the government, after the reducing edge of the Christian Democracy
Christian Democracy (Italy)
Christian Democracy was a Christian democratic party in Italy. It was founded in 1943 as the ideological successor of the historical Italian People's Party, which had the same symbol, a crossed shield ....

 (DC) had forced them to accept this alliance; attempts to incorporate the Italian Social Movement
Italian Social Movement
The Italian Social Movement , and later the Italian Social Movement–National Right , was a neo-fascist and post-fascist political party in Italy. Formed in 1946 by supporters of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, the party became the fourth largest party in Italy by the early 1960s...

 (MSI) in the Tambroni
Fernando Tambroni
Fernando Tambroni Armaroli was an Italian politician of the Christian Democratic Party. He was a lawyer, a prominent supporter of law and order policies, and for a brief time in 1960, the 37th Prime Minister of Italy...

 government led to riot
Riot
A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people. While individuals may attempt to lead or control a riot, riots are thought to be typically chaotic and...

s, and were short-lived.

Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro was an Italian politician and the 39th Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968, and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years....

, a relatively left-leaning Christian democrat, inspired this alliance. He would later try to include the Communist Party as well, with a deal called the historical compromise
Historic Compromise
In Italian history, the Historic Compromise was an accommodation between the Christian Democrats and the Italian Communist Party in the 1970s, after the latter embraced eurocommunism under Enrico Berlinguer. The 1978 assassination of DC leader Aldo Moro put an end to the Compromesso storico...

. This attempt at compromise was, however, stopped by the kidnapping and murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 of Moro in 1978 by the Red Brigades
Red Brigades
The Red Brigades was a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organisation, based in Italy, which was responsible for numerous violent incidents, assassinations, and robberies during the so-called "Years of Lead"...

, an extremist left-wing terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 organization.

The Communist party was at this point the largest communist party in western Europe, and remained such for the rest of its existence. Their ability to attract members was largely due to their pragmatic stance, especially their rejection of extremism, and to their growing independence from Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 (see Eurocommunism
Eurocommunism
Eurocommunism was a trend in the 1970s and 1980s within various Western European communist parties to develop a theory and practice of social transformation that was more relevant in a Western European democracy and less aligned to the influence or control of the Communist Party of the Soviet...

). The Italian communist party was especially strong in areas like Emilia Romagna, where communists had been elected to stable government positions. This practical political experience may have contributed to their taking a more pragmatic approach to politics.

The Years of Lead


On 12 December 1969 a roughly decade
Decade
A decade is a period of 10 years. The word is derived from the Ancient Greek dekas which means ten. This etymology is sometime confused with the Latin decas and dies , which is not correct....

-long period of extremist left- and right-wing political terrorism, known as the years of lead (as in the metal of bullets), began with the Piazza Fontana bombing
Piazza Fontana bombing
The Piazza Fontana Bombing was a terrorist attack that occurred on December 12, 1969 at 16:37, when a bomb exploded at the headquarters of Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura in Piazza Fontana in Milan, Italy, killing 17 people and wounding 88...

 in the center of Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. Neofascist Vincenzo Vinciguerra
Vincenzo Vinciguerra
Vincenzo Vinciguerra is an Italian neo-fascist activist, a former member of the Avanguardia Nazionale and Ordine Nuovo . He is currently serving a life-sentence for the murder of three policemen by a car bomb in Peteano in 1972...

 later declared the bombing to be an attempt to push the Italian state to declare a state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

, in order to lead to a more authoritative state. A bomb left in a bank killed about twenty, and was initially blamed on anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 Giuseppe Pinelli
Giuseppe Pinelli
Giuseppe "Pino" Pinelli was an Italian railway worker and anarchist activist, who died in the custody of Italian police in 1969 after being arrested. Pinelli was a member of the Milan Circle "Ponte della Ghisolfa". He was also the secretary of the Italian branch of the Anarchist Black Cross...

. This accusation was hotly contested by left-wing circles, especially the Maoist Student Movement, which had support in those years from some students of Milan's universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, and who considered the bombing to have all the marks of a fascist operation. Their guess proved correct, but only after many years of difficult investigations.

The strategy of tension
Strategy of tension
The strategy of tension is a theory that describes how to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions....

 attempted to blame the left for bombings carried out by right-wing terrorists. Fascist "black terrorists," such as Ordine Nuovo
Ordine Nuovo
Ordine Nuovo , full name Centro Studi Ordine Nuovo, "New Order Scholarship Center") was an Italian far right cultural and extra-parliamentary political and terrorist organization founded by Pino Rauti in 1956...

and the Avanguardia Nazionale
National Vanguard (Italy)
The National Vanguard is a name that has been used for at least two neo-fascist groups in Italy.-Original group:The original National Vanguard was an extra-parliamentary movement formed as a breakaway group from the Italian Social Movement by Stefano Delle Chiaie in 1960, initially based around a...

, were, in the 1980s-90s, found to be responsible for several terrorist attacks. On the other extreme of the political spectrum, the leftist Red Brigades carried out assassinations against specific persons, but weren't responsible for any blind bombings. The Red Brigades killed socialist journalist Walter Tobagi, and, in their most famous operation, kidnapped and assassinated Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro was an Italian politician and the 39th Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968, and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years....

, president of the Christian Democracy
Christian Democracy (Italy)
Christian Democracy was a Christian democratic party in Italy. It was founded in 1943 as the ideological successor of the historical Italian People's Party, which had the same symbol, a crossed shield ....

, who was trying to involve the Communist Party
Italian Communist Party
The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.The PCI was founded as Communist Party of Italy on 21 January 1921 in Livorno, by seceding from the Italian Socialist Party . Amadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. Outlawed during the Fascist regime, the party played...

 in the government through the compromesso storico
Historic Compromise
In Italian history, the Historic Compromise was an accommodation between the Christian Democrats and the Italian Communist Party in the 1970s, after the latter embraced eurocommunism under Enrico Berlinguer. The 1978 assassination of DC leader Aldo Moro put an end to the Compromesso storico...

("historic compromise"), to which the radical left, as well as Washington, were opposed. It is worth noting that the Red Brigades met fierce resistance from the Communist Party and the trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s; some left-wing politicians, however, used the sympathetic expression "comrades who are mistaken" (Italian: Compagni che sbagliano) to refer to the Red Brigades. Some, including the prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

 of Moro case Ferdinando Imposimato
Ferdinando Imposimato
Ferdinando Imposimato - an Italian important prosecutor, in charge of investigation of Mehmet Ali Ağca attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, for the kidnapping of Aldo Moro and for some Mafia trial.-External links:* in Accuracy in Media...

, have alleged that the 2nd Red Brigades (those led by Mario Moretti
Mario Moretti
Mario Moretti is an Italian former terrorist. A leading member of the Red Brigades in the late 1970s, he was one of the kidnappers of Aldo Moro, president of Italy's largest party, Democrazia Cristiana, and several times premier, in 1978; he later confessed to have been the one who killed the...

) were exploited - or anyway allowed to act freely - by Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti is an Italian politician of the now dissolved centrist Christian Democracy party. He served as the 42nd Prime Minister of Italy from 1972 to 1973, from 1976 to 1979 and from 1989 to 1992. He also served as Minister of the Interior , Defense Minister and Foreign Minister and he...

's government and possibly foreign forces (notably United States) to destabilize Italy, discredit the Communist Party and impede the historic compromise.

The last and largest of the bombings, known as the Bologna massacre
Bologna massacre
The Bologna massacre was a terrorist bombing of the Central Station at Bologna, Italy, on the morning of Saturday, 2 August 1980, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. The attack has been materially attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari...

, destroyed the city's railway station in 1980. This was found to be a neofascist bombing, in which Propaganda Due
Propaganda Due
Propaganda Due , or P2, was a Masonic lodge operating under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy from 1945 to 1976 , and a pseudo-Masonic or "black" or "covert" lodge operating illegally from 1976 to...

 was involved.

On 24 October 1990 Prime minister Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti is an Italian politician of the now dissolved centrist Christian Democracy party. He served as the 42nd Prime Minister of Italy from 1972 to 1973, from 1976 to 1979 and from 1989 to 1992. He also served as Minister of the Interior , Defense Minister and Foreign Minister and he...

 (DC) revealed to the Parliament the existence of Gladio, NATO's secret "stay-behind" networks which stocked weapons in order to facilitate an armed resistance in case of a communist coup. In 2000, a Parliament Commission report from the Olive Tree
Olive Tree
The Olive Tree was a denomination used for several successive centre-left Italian political coalitions from 1995 to 2007.The historical leader and ideologue of these coalitions was Romano Prodi, Professor of Economics and former leftist Christian Democrat, who invented the name and the symbol of...

 (centre-left) coalition concluded that the strategy of tension followed by Gladio had been supported by the United States to "stop the PCI and, to a certain degree, the PSI [Italian Socialist Party] from reaching executive power in the country."

The Eighties


With the end of the lead years, the communist party gradually increased their votes under the leadership of Enrico Berlinguer
Enrico Berlinguer
Enrico Berlinguer was an Italian politician; he was national secretary of the Italian Communist Party from 1972 until his death.-Early career:...

. The Italian Socialist Party
Italian Socialist Party
The Italian Socialist Party was a socialist and later social-democratic political party in Italy founded in Genoa in 1892.Once the dominant leftist party in Italy, it was eclipsed in status by the Italian Communist Party following World War II...

, led by Bettino Craxi
Bettino Craxi
Benedetto Craxi was an Italian politician, head of the Italian Socialist Party from 1976 to 1993, the first socialist President of the Council of Ministers of Italy from 1983 to 1987.-Political career:...

, became more and more critical of the communists and of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

; Craxi himself pushed in favor of Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

's positioning of Pershing missiles in Italy, a move many communists strongly disapproved of.

As the socialist party moved to more moderate positions, it attracted many reformists, some of whom were irritated by the failure of the communists to modernize. Increasingly, many on the left began to see the communists as old and out of fashion, while Craxi and the socialists seemed to represent a new liberal-socialism. The Communist party surpassed the Christian Democrats only in the European elections of 1984, held barely two days after Berlinguer's death, a passing that likely drew sympathy from many voters. The election of 1984, however, was to be the only time the Christian Democrats did not emerge as the largest party in a nation-wide election in which they participated.

In 1987, one year after the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 following a referendum in that year, a nuclear phase-out was commenced. Italy's four nuclear power plants were closed down, the last in 1990. A moratorium on the construction of new plants, originally in effect from 1987 until 1993, has since been extended indefinitely.

In these years, corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 began to be more extensive, a development that would be exposed in the early nineties and nicknamed Tangentopoli
Tangentopoli
Tangentopoli is a term which was coined to describe pervasive corruption in the Italian political system exposed in the 1992-6 Mani Pulite investigations, as well as the resulting scandal, which led to the collapse of the hitherto dominant Christian Democracy party and its allies.-Popular distrust...

. With the Mani Pulite
Mani pulite
Mani pulite was a nationwide Italian judicial investigation into political corruption held in the 1990s. Mani pulite led to the demise of the so-called First Republic, resulting in the disappearance of many parties. Some politicians and industry leaders committed suicide after their crimes were...

 investigation, starting just one year after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the whole power structure faltered, and seemingly indestructible parties, such as the Christian Democrats and the Socialist party, disbanded; the communist party changed its name to the Democratic Party of the Left
Democratic Party of the Left
The Democratic Party of the Left was a post-communist, democratic socialist political party in Italy.-History:...

 and took the role of the socialist party as the main social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 party in Italy. What was to follow was then called the transition to the Second Republic.

Second Republic


From 1992 to 1997, Italy faced significant challenges, as voters, disenchanted with past political paralysis, massive government debt, extensive corruption, and organized crime's considerable influence—collectively called Tangentopoli
Tangentopoli
Tangentopoli is a term which was coined to describe pervasive corruption in the Italian political system exposed in the 1992-6 Mani Pulite investigations, as well as the resulting scandal, which led to the collapse of the hitherto dominant Christian Democracy party and its allies.-Popular distrust...

 after being uncovered by Mani pulite
Mani pulite
Mani pulite was a nationwide Italian judicial investigation into political corruption held in the 1990s. Mani pulite led to the demise of the so-called First Republic, resulting in the disappearance of many parties. Some politicians and industry leaders committed suicide after their crimes were...

--demanded political, economic, and ethical reforms.

In the Italian referendums of 1993, voters approved substantial changes, including moving from a proportional to an Additional Member System
Additional Member System
The Additional Member System is the term used in the United Kingdom for the mixed member proportional representation voting system used in Scotland, Wales and the London Assembly....

, which is largely dominated by a majoritarian electoral system and the abolition of some ministries, some of which, however, have been reintroduced with only partly modified names, such as the Ministry of Agriculture reincarnated as the Ministry of Agricultural Resources.

Major political parties, beset by scandal and loss of voter confidence, underwent far-reaching changes. New political forces and new alignments of power emerged in the March 1994 national elections. This election saw a major turnover in the new parliament, with 452 out of 630 deputies and 213 out of 315 senators elected for the first time.

The 1994 elections also swept media magnate Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi , also known as Il Cavaliere – from knighthood to the Order of Merit for Labour which he received in 1977 – is an Italian politician and businessman who served three terms as Prime Minister of Italy, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the...

 (leader of "Pole of Freedoms
Pole of Freedoms
The Pole of Freedoms was a centre-right electoral alliance in Italy, launched at the 1994 general election by Silvio Berlusconi.The alliance was composed primarily of Forza Italia and the Lega Nord, but also included Christian Democratic Centre and the Union of the Centre...

" coalition) into office as Prime Minister. Berlusconi, however, was forced to step down in December 1994 when the Lega Nord withdrew support. The Berlusconi government was succeeded by a technical government headed by Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, which left office in early 1996.

A series of center-left coalitions dominated Italy's political landscape between 1996 and 2001. In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a center-left coalition, Olive Tree, under the leadership of Romano Prodi
Romano Prodi
Romano Prodi is an Italian politician and statesman. He served as the Prime Minister of Italy, from 17 May 1996 to 21 October 1998 and from 17 May 2006 to 8 May 2008...

. Prodi's government became the third-longest to stay in power before he narrowly lost a vote of confidence, by three votes, in October 1998.

In May 1999, the Parliament selected Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
dr. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi is an Italian politician and banker. He was the 73rd Prime Minister of Italy from 1993 to 1994 and was the tenth President of the Italian Republic from 1999 to 2006...

 as the President of the Republic. Ciampi, a former Prime Minister and Minister of the Treasury and, before entering the government, the governor of the Bank of Italy
Banca d'Italia
Banca d'Italia is the central bank of Italy and part of the European System of Central Banks. It is located in Palazzo Koch, Roma, via Nazionale...

, was elected on the first ballot by a comfortable margin over the required two-thirds of the votes.

A new government was formed by the Democrats of the Left
Democrats of the Left
The Democrats of the Left was a social-democratic Italian political party and part of the Olive Tree electoral coalition, which merged with a number of centrist and leftist groups to form the Democratic Party on 14 October 2007...

 leader and former communist Massimo D'Alema
Massimo D'Alema
Massimo D'Alema is an Italian politician. He is also a journalist and a former national secretary of the Democratic Party of the Left...

, but in April 2000, following poor performance by his coalition in regional elections, D'Alema resigned.

The succeeding center-left government, including most of the same parties, was headed by Giuliano Amato
Giuliano Amato
Giuliano Amato is an Italian politician. He was Prime Minister of Italy twice, first from 1992 to 1993 and then from 2000 to 2001. He was more recently Vice President of the Convention on the Future of Europe that drafted the new European Constitution and headed the Amato Group. He is commonly...

, a social-democrat, who had previously served as Prime Minister in 1992-93, and had at the time sworn never to return to active politics.

National elections held on 13 May 2001 returned Berlusconi to power at the head of the five-party center-right "Freedom House" coalition, comprising the prime minister's own party, Forza Italia
Forza Italia
Forza Italia was a liberal-conservative, Christian democratic, and liberal political party in Italy, with a large social democratic minority, that was led by Silvio Berlusconi, four times Prime Minister of Italy....

, the National Alliance, the Northern League, the Christian Democratic Center
Christian Democratic Center
The Christian Democratic Centre was a Christian democratic political party in Italy.-History:The party emerged from a split from Italian People's Party , direct heir of the Christian Democracy , in 1994...

, and the Democrats' Center Union.

Between 17 May 2006 and 21 February 2007 Romano Prodi served as Prime Minister of Italy following the narrow victory of his l'Unione coalition over the Casa delle Libertà led by Silvio Berlusconi in the April 2006 Italian elections. Following a government crisis, Prodi submitted his resignation on 21 February 2007. Three days later he was asked by the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano is an Italian politician who has been the 11th President of Italy since 2006. A long-time member of the Italian Communist Party and later the Democrats of the Left, he served as President of the Chamber of Deputies from 1992 to 1994 and as Minister of the Interior from 1996 to...

 to stay on as Prime Minister and he agreed to do so. On 28 February 2007 Prodi narrowly survived a senate no confidence vote.

Later, on 24 January 2008 the Prodi II Cabinet
Prodi II Cabinet
The Prodi II Cabinet was the cabinet of the government of Italy from 17 May 2006 to 8 May 2008, a total of 722 days, or 1 year, 11 months and 21 days...

 went through a new crisis
2008 Italian political crisis
On 24 January 2008 Prime Minister of Italy Romano Prodi lost a vote of confidence in the Senate by a vote of 161 to 156 votes, causing the downfall of his government. Prodi's resignation led President Giorgio Napolitano to request the president of the Senate, Franco Marini, to assess the...

, because the Minister of Justice, Clemente Mastella
Clemente Mastella
Mario Clemente Mastella is an Italian politician. He is currently leader of Popular-UDEUR, a minor centrist Italian party. He was Minister of Labour in the Berlusconi government from 10 May 1994 to 17 January 1995, and Minister of Justice in the Prodi government from 17 May 2006 to 17 January 2008...

, retracted his support to the Cabinet. Consequently the Prodi Cabinet lost the vote of confidence and the President Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano
Giorgio Napolitano is an Italian politician who has been the 11th President of Italy since 2006. A long-time member of the Italian Communist Party and later the Democrats of the Left, he served as President of the Chamber of Deputies from 1992 to 1994 and as Minister of the Interior from 1996 to...

 called a new general election
Italian general election, 2008
A snap general election was held in Italy on 13 April and 14 April 2008. The election came after President Giorgio Napolitano dissolved parliament on 6 February 2008 following the defeat of the government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi in a January 2008 Senate vote, and the unsuccessful tentative...

.

The election set against two new parties, the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (Italy)
The Democratic Party is a social-democratic political party in Italy, that is the second-largest in the country. The party is led by Pier Luigi Bersani, who was elected in the 2009 leadership election....

 (founded in October 2007 by the union of the Democrats of the Left
Democrats of the Left
The Democrats of the Left was a social-democratic Italian political party and part of the Olive Tree electoral coalition, which merged with a number of centrist and leftist groups to form the Democratic Party on 14 October 2007...

 and Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy) led by Walter Veltroni
Walter Veltroni
Walter Veltroni, Knight Grand Cross, is an Italian writer, journalist and politician, who served as the first leader of the Democratic Party within the centre-left opposition, until his resignation on 17 February 2009. He served as Mayor of Rome from 2001 to 2008.-Biography:Walter Veltroni was...

, and The People of Freedom
The People of Freedom
The People of Freedom is a centre-right political party in Italy. With the Democratic Party, it is one of the two major parties of the current Italian party system....

 (federation of Forza Italia
Forza Italia
Forza Italia was a liberal-conservative, Christian democratic, and liberal political party in Italy, with a large social democratic minority, that was led by Silvio Berlusconi, four times Prime Minister of Italy....

, National Alliance
National Alliance (Italy)
National Alliance was a conservative political party in Italy.Gianfranco Fini was the leader of the party since its foundation in 1995, however he stepped down in 2008 after being elected to the nominally non-partisan post of President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and was succeeded by...

 and other parties) led by Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi , also known as Il Cavaliere – from knighthood to the Order of Merit for Labour which he received in 1977 – is an Italian politician and businessman who served three terms as Prime Minister of Italy, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the...

. The Democratic Party was in alliance with Italy of Values
Italy of Values
Italy of Values is a centrist, populist and anti-corruption political party in Italy. The party, which is affiliated to the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party , is headed by former Mani pulite prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro, who entered politics in 1996.The party aims to gather and give...

, while The People of Freedom forged an alliance with Lega Nord and the Movement for Autonomy
Movement for Autonomy
The Movement for Autonomies is a regionalist Christian democratic political party in Italy. It demands economic development and greater autonomy for Sicily, mainly, and for other regions of Southern Italy...

. The coalition led by Berlusconi won the election and the leader of the centre-right created the Berlusconi IV Cabinet
Berlusconi IV Cabinet
Berlusconi IV Cabinet has been the cabinet of the government of Italy from 8 May 2008 to 16 November 2011.As of July 2011, it was composed of 24 ministers, 4 deputy ministers and 39 under-secretaries, for a total of 67 members.-Sources:*...

.

Administrative division


The Italian State has twenty regions and about a hundred provinces. The constitution of Italy
Constitution of Italy
The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 13 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947...

 provides for twenty regions with extended powers. Regions are further divided in provinces. Provinces also have their own local elections. For each of the provinces, a prefect
Prefect
Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition....

 is appointed by and responds to the central government, which he locally represents. While the number of regions is somewhat stable (the only modification to the original set is the separation of Molise
Molise
Molise is a region of Southern Italy, the second smallest of the regions. It was formerly part of the region of Abruzzi e Molise and now a separate entity...

 from Abruzzo
Abruzzo
Abruzzo is a region in Italy, its western border lying less than due east of Rome. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east...

), there has been a tendency in later years to create new provinces, such as Crotone
Crotone
Crotone is a city and comune in Calabria, southern Italy, on the Ionian Sea. Founded circa 710 BC as the Achaean colony of Croton , it was known as Cotrone from the Middle Ages until 1928, when its name was changed to the current one. In 1994 it became the capital of the newly established...

, Verbania
Verbania
Verbania is a city and comune on the shore of Lake Maggiore, Piedmont, in northwest Italy, about north-west of Milan and about from Locarno in Switzerland.-Overview:...

, Lodi, Biella
Biella
Biella is a town and comune in the northern Italian region of Piemonte, the capital of the province of the same name, with some 45,800 inhabitants as of 2009. It is located about 80 km northeast of Turin and about 80 km west-northwest of Milan.It lies in the foothills of the Alps,...

, Lecco
Lecco
Lecco is a town of c. 47,760 inhabitants in Lombardy, northern Italy, north of Milan, the capital of the province of Lecco. It lies at the end of the south-eastern branch of Lake Como...

 and others.

Five regions (Aosta Valley, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli–Venezia Giulia is one of the twenty regions of Italy, and one of five autonomous regions with special statute. The capital is Trieste. It has an area of 7,858 km² and about 1.2 million inhabitants. A natural opening to the sea for many Central European countries, the region is...

, Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

, Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) have special charters granting them varying degrees of autonomy. The raisons d'être of these charters is in most cases the presence of significant linguistic and cultural minorities, but in the case of Sicily it was to calm down separatist movements. The other 15 regions were in practice established in 1970, even if their ideation had been a much earlier idea.

See also

  • Convicted Italian MPs
    Convicted Italian MPs
    This is an alphabetical list of the present MPs, senators and European MPs from Italy that have received final conviction, not obstructed by statutory terms....

  • Foreign relations of Italy
    Foreign relations of Italy
    Since its unification in 1861, Italy has been one of the most important and influential European countries. Its major allies are the United States, the other NATO countries , and the European Union...

  • List of political parties in Italy