Since 1946 Italy has been a parliamentary republic. The main institutions include the president of the republic, who plays an institutional and guarantee role (albeit at times politically relevant), elected by the Parliament in joint session together with the representatives of the regions; the Parliament, perfect bicameral, made up of a Chamber of Deputies, composed of 630 representatives, and a Senate, comprising 322 members; the president of the Council of Ministers, appointed by the president of the republic, who is often the leader of the party that has obtained the most seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The electoral mandate of deputies and senators is five years, while the president of the republic remains in office for seven. Finally, the Constitution establishes the administrative division of the country into 20 regions and over 100 provinces.
The Italian political history of the post-war period is marked by a moment of caesura, at the beginning of the nineties, which led to the transition from the so-called ‘First Republic’ to the ‘Second Republic’. The internal repercussions of international changes transformed the Italian political system: just over a year after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Italian Communist Party (PCI), led by its secretary Achille Occhetto, was in fact officially dissolved to give life to the Party Democrat of the Left (Pds). On the internal level, it was the ‘Clean Hands’ judicial operation and the numerous scandals that brought to light a largely corrupt system that pushed towards a net turnover of the ruling class and the main governing parties: the Christian Democrats (DC) and the Party socialist (Psi) were officially dissolved, and in the 1994 elections, new parties and new leaders emerged forcefully: among them, the Northern League of Umberto Bossi and Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi. At the same time, in 1993, following a popular referendum, the electoral system was reformed, repealing the proportional principle and replacing it with a semi-majority one. This choice was aimed at reducing the number of parties in Parliament and thus ensuring greater stability for the governing coalitions: since 1945 there have been more than fifty governments. However, the new electoral system did not bring the desired results and in 2005 the proportional system was reintroduced, with a threshold and a majority prize: in the Chamber the prize consists of at least 54 seats for the party that gets the most votes,
This electoral system was adopted in the 2008 elections, which were won by the center-right coalition led by Berlusconi. Despite the large parliamentary majority, in 2010 the Berlusconi government had entered a crisis. The triggering factor was attributable to the tension between the leader of the PDL Berlusconi and the co-founder of the party, as well as former speaker of the Chamber, Gianfranco Fini, who first formed a separate parliamentary group and then a party in its own right, called Futuro. and freedom for Italy (Fli). The 2011 administrative elections had shown a progressive change in the electoral choices of the population and posed a further challenge to the government’s strength. The crisis of the Berlusconi government was accentuated by the serious financial situation in which the country found itself: this triggered a series of international pressures for Italy to adopt austerity measures, which led to the resignation of the Berlusconi government in November 2011. Following the appointment by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano of Mario Monti as senator for life, the political forces have agreed on the name of Monti himself as head of a technical government, which would lead Italy until the 2013 elections . The Monti government itself has resigned,PDL, announced its intention to withdraw confidence in controversy with some financial measures introduced by the government. The new elections for the renewal of Parliament were held on 24 and 25 February 2013 and marked the unexpected rise of the 5-star Movement, founded by former comedian Beppe Grillo. The movement, which appeared for the first time in a national election, was the first party in the Chamber of Deputies, with a result of 25.56%, against 25.42% of the Democratic Party, led by Pierluigi Bersani. At the level of coalitions, the center-left one – including, in addition to the Democratic Party, the Left Ecology and Freedom (Sel), the Democratic Center (Cd) and the Südtiroler Volkspartei (Svp) – got 29.55% of the votes in the House, while the center-right one, with Berlusconi as prime minister and formed by the PDL, the Northern League and other minor formations, obtained 29.18% of the total consensus. This result led to a stalemate in the formation of the new government, especially in consideration of the fact that in the Senate the center-left coalition, which also benefited from the majority prize in the House, did not win the majority of the seats. Furthermore, at the same time as the negotiations for the formation of the new government, the new elected parliament should have elected the new head of state, since Giorgio Napolitano’s mandate was about to expire. In the climate of political immobility caused by the substantial balance of the forces in the field, with three different fronts – center-left, center-right and 5-star Movement – without the numbers necessary to be able to form a government on their own, the election of the president of the republic has become the testing ground for measuring the balance. ThePd has split on the candidacy of Franco Marini first and then of Romano Prodi, thus eroding Bersani’s credibility and creating the conditions for an essential agreement with the PDL on the re-election of Napolitano. This agreement also formed the basis for the formation of a ‘grand coalition’ of government, made up of the Pd and Pdl and with Enrico Letta of the Pd as prime minister. The new government should have led the country towards new elections, including through a new phase of institutional reforms, first of all that of the electoral law. To complicate the picture, new divisions have occurred within the same government camps: on the one hand, the PDLit split, giving life to the rebirth of Forza Italia, which passed to the opposition, and to the New center-right led by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who remained in government. On the other hand, the Democratic Party changed its leadership, with the election of Matteo Renzi as the new party secretary. The latter accelerated the process of reforming the electoral law by presenting a project agreed with Forza Italia to parliament. In February 2014, following the request of the majority of the Democratic Party for a change of government, Letta resigned and Matteo Renzi was commissioned by Napolitano to form a new executive. The new government is supported by the Democratic Party, the New Center Right and Civic Choice. Initially, Renzi had made an agreement with the major opposition force, Forza Italia, on some reforms; following the election to the presidency of the republic of Sergio Mattarella (in place of Napolitano, who resigned at the end of 2014) in January 2015, however, this dialogue was interrupted and the government accelerated some reform projects, first among all the one on the electoral law. The new law, the so-called ‘italicum’, approved in May 2015, is valid only for the Chamber, as the Senate, in turn, has been the subject of a reform and will become a no longer elective body. The system is proportional and provides for a large majority premium (340 seats, equal to 55% of the total seats) to be assigned to the list that receives at least 40% of the votes; a novelty introduced by the new law is that, if no list reaches this percentage, a second round is foreseen in which the first two lists will compete.