Italy was ruled by kings up until the fallout of World War II. With the Axis powers quickly succumbing to the Allies, King Victor Emmanuel III had Benito Mussolini arrested and joined forces with the opposition. He was invariably forced to abdicate his throne in 1946 in disgrace.
His son Umberto II replaced him that same year, but Italy held a referendum and twelve million people voted for a Republic (ten million for the throne) and a constitution was eventually formed. The new Italian Republic began on January 1st, 1948.
The initial constitution established the basic ground rules of society and consisted of 139 articles, divided into three categories: Fundamental Principles, Rights and Duties of the Citizens, Organization of the Republic.
This constitutional process was designed to be difficult to amend, to stop would-be dictators from replacing it with a version that gives them too much power. There has only been a total of 13 amendments since inception.
Today, there are three branches of power in Italy:
- Executive – The Council of the Ministers, presided over by the President of the Council (a.k.a. Prime Minister) are responsible for executing laws and other political decisions.
- Legislative – Parliament (comprised of Chamber of Duties & Senate) makes laws and can also make amendments to the constitution. Responsible for reviewing and guiding the government.
- Judicial – Judges are responsible for implementing the laws passed by parliament. They are chosen based on exam results and internal commissions (not elected), and they serve for life.
Italy’s presidents are not elected by the people, but by parliament and regional representatives via secret ballot. They serve seven-year terms so that they won’t be re-elected by the same parliament (both houses have five-year terms).
TIPS: The Italian frontiera (border) learned in this lesson can also be translated to “frontier”, while confine is actually more commonly used for “border”.
Also be aware that while arma (weapon) is a feminine noun, it has an irregular plural:
- armi (weapons) -or- le armi (the weapons)