ITALIA
Officially: Repubblica Italiana.
English: Italy.
Seat of government: Roma.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: The parliament (Parlamento) comprises the Camera dei Deputati, elected in geographical constituencies, and the Senato, elected in the regions, both modified by party-list proportional represenatation with a seat bonus to the plurality winner. The prime minister (Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri) is chosen by the parliament (with each chamber acting independently), and heads the government. The president is chosen by the parliament as whole, along with a small number of representatives chosen by regional governments.
Governing parties: Partito Democratico; Nuovo Centrodestra; Scelta Civica; Per l’Italia; Südtiroler VolksparteiPartito Autonomista Trentino Tirolese; Centro Democratico; Partito Socialista Italiano; Movimento Associativo Italiani all’EsteroUnione Sudamericana Emigrati Italiani.
Head of government: Matteo Renzi, PD, prime minister.
Other parliamentary parties: Movimento Cinque Stelle; Forza Italia; Sinistra Ecologia Libertà; Lega Nord; Fratelli d’Italia.
Assessment: One of the most unstable democracies in western Europe. A center-left coalition of coalitions known as L’Unione won a 2006 general election narrowly (by .1%) over the Casa della Libertà coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi; Romano Prodi became prime minister. An unusually-contentious election for the ceremonial presidency went to Unione member Giorgio Napolitano. Berlusconi, a media baron of dubious ethics and several times prime minister (1994-5, 2001-6, 2008-11), arranged his own protection from prosecution at several points during his time in office. The core of L’Unione was set to consolidate around Prodi into a single party, the PD. But the departure of the Unione Democratici per l’Europa from the governing coalition upon the indictment of its leader for corruption cost the coalition its majority in the Senate; it lost a vote of confidence in the Senate and resigned. Berlusconi, whose coalition was leading in public-opinion polls, blocked attempts at an interim government to pass electoral reform; the 2008 elections were then held under the system created under Berlusconi, and were won by Popolo della Libertà, which formally merged two CdL components, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Gianfranco Fini’s Alleanza Nazionale. Berlusconi became prime minister. In 2011, facing the European debt crisis, he resigned in favor of a technocratic government led by Mario Monti. A 2013 election led to a victory for the PD; eventually Enrico Letta formed a broad government. Letta resigned in 2014, replaced by Renzi.
FH: 1-2, free. Econ: 7.98 (29), full democracy.
Updated: 2014 October 31.
 

O.T. FORD