Election watch: 7 things to know about Italian politics

Italy goes to the polls at the start of March. Here are seven things you need to know.

1. Italy’s many prime minister

The southern European country is know for its many leaders over the years, but do you know how many prime ministers the country has had?

Since the end of the Second World War, Italy has had no fewer than 28 separate prime ministers. The prime minister to have served the longest is the controversial Silvio Berlusconi, who has led the country on three separate occasions. The shortest-serving PM was Fernando Tambroni, who lasted just 123 days way back in 1960.

 

2. The 2018 election

The next Italian election takes place this March, using a new proportional voting system. The leader of the Democratic Party Paolo Gentiloni is seeking a second term in power while Silvio Berlusconi is hoping to make a come-back as leader of a centre-right coalition.

 

3. What is the Five Star Movement?

You may have heard of the Five Star Movement, who are a populist political party hoping to make significant gains in the March election. The party was founded by Beppe Grillo, a comedian who has recently stepped down from the party, according to the Guardian.

Opinion polls suggest that they could emerge as the largest party following the election, however, that does not necessarily mean they will take charge of the government. Much will depend on the state of play in the new Chamber of Deputies and Senate.

 

4. What do the betting markets say?

According to Ladbrokes’ odds, the Five Star Movement is the favourite to win the most seats at the election with odds of 1/3. Gentiloni’s Democrats are second favourite with odds of 9/4. The company also offers odds of 20/1 for the centre-right Forza Italia, led by Berlusconi, to win the most seats, as well as odds of 25/1 for the regionalist Lega Nord to win the most seats.

5. Italy’s President

Most of the country’s powers reside with the prime minister, the government and the Chamber of Deputies, as well as the Senate, but the country also has a president with limited powers. The current president is Sergio Mattarella, who has served in the office since 2015. Unlike other presidents, Italy’s is not elected directly by the people. Instead, the president is chosen by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate and is essentially the country's figurehead.

6. The regions of Italy

Italy is not an official federation, but within it there are 20 regions each with varying levels of autonomy. Each region has its own regional council or equivalent, as well its own president. Most regions are currently led by Democratic Party presidents. The region of Emilia-Romagna, which contains the incredibly culturally rich and beautiful city of Bologna is led by Democrats’ Stefano Bonaccini.

7. The country has ten living prime ministers

Due to Italy’s near-constant replacement of prime ministers due to regular instability and frequent elections, as well as having had almost 30 PMs since the end of World War Two, the country has ten living former prime ministers – eleven if the current one is included.