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The Election of the President of the Republic in Unstable Times

Mark Donovan

Sergio Mattarella was elected the eleventh president of the Republic on 31 January 2015 for a seven-year term. His election after the fourth round of voting was a success for Matteo Renzi, the president of the Council of Ministers, who reunited his party, reinforced his government, and weakened his opponents. The new president was elected by 66 percent of the electoral college, a relatively large majority, comprising principally the left but also a small part of the moderate right. That majority might also be seen as a centrist establishment vote in a still polarized party and political system. This perspective suggests that in addition to the president’s institutional significance, which may be sharply reduced in the near future due to major constitutional reforms, his importance as a national figure and socialization agent should also be considered. The president’s ability to represent and enhance social cohesion may be particularly important in a more majoritarian political system.

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The Election of the President of the Republic: The Legacy of the Napolitano Presidency

Francesco Clementi

This chapter describes the main events regarding the election of the president of the Republic and the legacy of Napolitano's presidency. The general elections of February 2013 resulted in political deadlock, with no party being able to form a government. In this context, the re-election of Napolitano was the key to finding a way to form a new government based on a “grand coalition” of opposing parties. This is the main reason why the presidential election stands out in importance in Italian politics in 2013. In his role as president, Napolitano focused on the necessity to achieve constitutional and political reforms through a widespread and solid agreement among disparate political forces, even if it meant breaking ideological taboos and overcoming vast political differences. This central achievement of Napolitano's new presidency adds to the legacy created in his preceding one.

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The Formation of the Monti Government and the Role of the President of the Republic

Carlo Fusaro

On Saturday 12 November 2011, after the approval of the budget and

the stability law, the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who had led

the government for the longest period in the history of the Italian

Republic, formally resigned. Twenty-four hours later, the president of

the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, invited Mario Monti, whom he had

made a Life Senator just four days earlier, to form the next government.

An academic and president of the Bocconi University in Milan,

Monti had been the European commissioner chosen by the Berlusconi

government in 1994 and reappointed by the Massimo D’Alema center-left

government in 1999. On 16 November, having accepted the president’s

nomination, Monti presented a list of ministers, none of whom

were members of Parliament, and they were all sworn in on that very

day. Thus, one of the shortest government crises ever was resolved in

less than three days.

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The End of an Era: The Crumbling of the Italian Party System

Luigi Ceccarini, Ilvo Diamanti, and Marc Lazar

At around 9:00 pm on 12 November 2011, Silvio Berlusconi officially

informed the president of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, of his

resignation. The following day, the president invited Mario Monti to

form a new government. This marked the end of a long crisis involving

Berlusconi, not only as the head of the government, but also as

the leader of the center-right parliamentary majority, which had been

built on the alliance between the Popolo della Libertà (PdL, People of

Freedom) and the Lega Nord (LN, Northern League).

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The New Government and the Spoils System

Annarita Criscitiello

On 17 May 2006, exactly 10 years after his first appointment as president

of the Council of Ministers, Romano Prodi was sworn in at the

Quirinale by the new president of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. At

9 PM of the same day, during the first meeting of the Council of Ministers,

Prodi appointed the undersecretary to the presidency, ministers

without portfolio, and other undersecretaries. He then formally attributed

the functions of council vice-president to Massimo D’Alema,

president of the Democratici di Sinistra (DS, Left Democrats), and

Francesco Rutelli, president of the Margherita (Daisy).

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The President and the “Wisemen”: Institutional Reforms and Political Stalemate

Luca Lanzalaco

At the end of March 2013, Italy's Parliament undertook an intense round of activity that was aimed at reforming the electoral system and some important aspects of the Constitution, such as the form of the state and that of the government. During this reform process, both the president of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and the prime minister, Enrico Letta, assumed a major role. This chapter analyzes the main characteristics of this policy cycle while examining the underlying elements of continuity and discontinuity with other reform efforts that have been undertaken over the past 30 years in Italy.

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The Constitutional Referendum of June 2006: End of the “Great Reform” but Not of Reform Itself

Martin J. Bull

On 25–26 June 2006—the 60th anniversary of the Constituent Assembly’s

commencement of its work drafting the Italian Constitution (25

June 1946)—a referendum was held that called on the Italian people

to accept or reject a package of proposals that had been passed by the

center-right majority in November 2005 and that promised to rewrite

radically a substantial part of that document. Following the national

elections (April), local elections (May), and (parliamentary) election of

the president of the Republic (May), the referendum was, in many ways,

an electoral appointment that was one too many, as was evidenced in

a lackluster campaign by the parties. This is ironic because it could be

regarded as the most significant consultation of Italian voters for many

years. In any event, the voters delivered a decisive verdict, rejecting by

a large majority the proposals for constitutional revision.

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Foreign Policy: The Difficult Pursuit of Influence

James Walston

In February 2007, after less than a year in office, Prime Minister

Romano Prodi offered his resignation to the president of the Republic,

Giorgio Napolitano, after his government lost a vote in the Senate.

The motion outlined Italy’s foreign policy in fairly broad terms and

would not have been critical if the opposition, the radical left, and

Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema himself had not made it into a test

for the whole government. On the morning of the vote, D’Alema had

said, “If we don’t have a majority, then it’s time to call it a day.” As it

turned out, 158 senators voted in favor of the motion and 136 against,

with 24 abstention. Since the rules of the Senate count abstentions as

“no’s,” the motion failed, and Prodi tendered his resignation.

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The Second Berlusconi Government

Jean Blondel and Paolo Segatti

The year 2002 was expected to be an epoch-making year for Italian

politics. It was to be the first occasion to gauge whether things had

really changed since the “First Republic.” Between the end of that

“classical” regime in the early 1990s and the year 2001, some aspects

of politics had indeed altered, but the depth and durability of the move

to a new type of behavior was still at best uncertain. Polarization

between right and left had occurred, with the center squeezed in between.

That was new, at least ostensibly, but the shape that governments

were taking did not provide clear signs of transformation. On

the one hand, much had been transitional, as with the several “technical”

or “semi-technical” cabinets. On the other hand, much was old

hat: a center-right “majoritarian” coalition had fallen after only six

months in 1994—not a good omen for the stability of the “new” politics.

Developments during the 1996–2001 legislature reflected even

more a sense of déjà vu. With the president of the republic refusing to

dissolve Parliament, preferring instead to see the victor of the 1996

election, Romano Prodi—a leader without a party at his disposal, to be

sure—defeated by his own side, two other prime ministers (and three

cabinets) followed each other in less than three years. This scarcely

was in keeping with the goals of the “new” politics.

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The Gianni Agnelli Funeral: A National Identification Rite

Gaspare Nevola

On 24 January 2003, Gianni Agnelli, honorary president of Fiat, patriarch

of the most important Italian entrepreneurial family, Senator for

Life, died in Turin. The death of the octogenarian Avvocato, as he was

called, seemed to have a traumatic effect on Italian society. Commentators,

public personalities, politicians, and ordinary people quickly

saw his death as a sign of the end of an era. The media coverage of

the event was striking, for both its quantity and intensity. Radio and

television provided immediate reports, with special broadcasting that

filled the airwaves for days; the printed press reacted in a similar way.

The major national dailies ran nine column headlines to report the

news and followed with 20 to 25 pages (more in some cases) of editorials,

backgrounders by publishers or prestigious opinion-makers,

and front-page interviews with the president of the Republic. News

stories alternated with portraits and commentaries from some of

Agnelli’s closest collaborators, creating what often seemed like a retrospective

of the country’s history. There was an abundance of personal

recollections and declarations of affection and esteem from

ordinary citizens and leading figures in sports, economics, politics,

and cultural life. The news resonated in the foreign press as well.