Italian institutions between crisis and reform

The political turmoil in Italy during the last months hasn’t left its constitutional order unaffected, one would think – or has it? In order to understand what happened it is essential to start from November 2011. Berlusconi’s Cabinet fell apart, while the Italian economic and financial situation was becaming increasingly dramatic. The President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano appointed Professor Mario Monti, an eminent economist and previously European Commissioner, to form a new government.

The main oddity of the Monti government was its technical nature. The Ministers were not members of political parties, but rather university professors, professionals and experts in different fields. Nevertheless, the government obtained the vote of confidence from the Parliament by a large majority of almost all political forces. It is true then what President Napolitano said: There are no “technical” governments. All governments are political, and the appointment of Monti’s Cabinet does not imply any violation of the Constitution. Art. 94 of the Constitution requires that the Government appointed by the President obtains the vote of confidence from both houses of Parliament, and that is what happened.

The new government worked for over a year, enacting strict reforms in the economic, fiscal and social fields (e.g. a much criticized labor reform). Eventually it fell apart in November 2012, following the decision of Silvio Berlusconi’s party to revoke the confidence to the Cabinet. There was no formal vote of “non-confidence”. Technically, therefore, it was an “extra-parliamentary” crisis.

Stalemate In Parliament

The general elections in February resulted in no clear majority. The Italian electoral law, called by its own creator Berlusconi “porcellum” (meaning “crap”), provides a “majority premium” operating differently in the lower House and in the Senate ...

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