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World > Europe > Italy > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Italy - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT
Italy has been a democratic republic since June 2, 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by popular referendum. The constitution was promulgated on January 1, 1948.

The Italian state is centralized. The prefect of each of the provinces is appointed by and answerable to the central government. In addition to the provinces, the constitution provides for 20 regions with limited governing powers. Five regions--Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige, Valle d'Aosta, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia--function with special autonomy statutes. The other 15 regions were established in 1970 and vote for regional 'councils.' The establishment of regional governments throughout Italy has brought some decentralization to the national governmental machinery, and recent governments have devolved further powers to the regions. Many regional governments, particularly in the north of Italy, are seeking additional powers.

The 1948 constitution established a perfectly bicameral parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate), a separate judiciary, and an executive branch composed of a Council of Ministers (cabinet), headed by the president of the council (prime minister). The president of the republic is elected for seven years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional delegates. The president nominates the prime minister, who chooses the other ministers. The Council of Ministers--in practice composed mostly of members of parliament--must retain the confidence of both houses.

The houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected by a proportional representation system. Under 2005 legislation, the Chamber of Deputies has 630 members (12 of which are elected by Italians abroad). In addition to 315 elected members (six of which are elected by Italians abroad), the Senate includes former presidents and several other persons appointed for life according to special constitutional provisions. Both houses are elected for a maximum of five years, but either may be dissolved before the expiration of its normal term. Legislative bills may originate in either house and must be passed by a majority in both.

The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and subsequent statutes. There is only partial judicial review of legislation in the American sense. A constitutional court, which passes on the constitutionality of laws, is a post-World War II innovation. Its powers, volume, and frequency of decisions are not as extensive as those of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Principal Government Officials
President--Giorgio Napolitano
Prime Minister--Romano Prodi
Foreign Minister--Massimo D?Alema
Minister of Defense--Arturo Parisi
Minister of Finance--Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa
Minister of Justice--Clemente Mastella
Minister of the Interior--Giuliano Amato
Ambassador to the United States--Giovanni Castellaneta

Italy maintains an embassy in the United States at 3000 Whitehaven Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-612-4400).


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Euro Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Euro Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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