The Executive Branch of the Democratic Republic of Italy

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  • 0:00 Forming a Government
  • 1:48 The Prime Minister
  • 2:55 The Council of Ministers
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will discuss Italy's executive branch. We will focus especially on the appointment and duties of the prime minister and the Council of Ministers.

Forming a Government

Boun giorno! Benvenuti! Welcome! I am Antonio, the secretary to il Presidente, the president of the Republic of Italy. Today, I'm here to talk to you about Italy's executive branch, which is appointed by my boss, the president. I know these people personally and work with them all the time, so I am the perfect person to introduce you to them, no?

Italy's executive branch is usually referred to as a Government of the Republic, and it consists of the prime minister, whose official title is the President of the Council of Ministers, and the Council of Ministers itself, which is often called the Cabinet. The government's overall function is to run the country on a daily basis, implementing laws made by Parliament, making policies, and supervising the various areas of political and social activity, like justice, transportation, and healthcare.

The prime minister is appointed directly by my boss, the president of the Republic, and is typically the leader of the majority party in the Parliament. After his appointment, the prime minister forms a new government by selecting his council members and presenting them to the president for approval. Finally, both Houses of Parliament must give the new government a vote of confidence within ten days. If they refuse, the process begins again. If they agree, the government gets down to work, but it must be careful because the Parliament can revoke its confidence at any time by a motion of no-confidence.

Unfortunately, most governments have been quite unstable. They typically last only a year or two before changing alliances or volatile issues knock them out of power. In fact, only one government since 1945 has lasted for a full five-year term of Parliament.

The Prime Minister

Let's talk more about the prime minister. As I said, he is appointed by the president of the Republic and serves as the head of the government. He does not have a fixed term in office and can be voted out by the members of Parliament at any time if they lose confidence in his abilities or his policies. The prime minister is a busy person with many duties. These include:

  • Nominating the Council of Ministers and leading and coordinating its activities
  • Directing the government's policy decisions and taking responsibility for them
  • Maintaining unity and consistency in the government
  • Serving as a mediator between political parties, especially those attempting to work as a coalition
  • Suggesting reforms for the political system

Matteo Renzi was sworn in as Italy's prime minister on February 22, 2014, and he has some major reforms on his agenda. He would like to simplify Parliament, reform the election system, and make changes in the judicial branch. These are big and difficult goals, and we shall have to wait and see what comes of them.

The Council of Ministers

The prime minister works in close conjunction with the Council of Ministers, or Cabinet, of which he is the leading member. The other members consist of the prime minister's undersecretary and 17 ministers who head various departments, like defense; interior; foreign affairs; justice; economy and finance; economic development; infrastructures and transports; agriculture, food, and forestry policies; labor and social policy; environment, protection of land and sea; education, universities, and research; heritage and cultural activities and tourism; and health. The ministers, who, as I said, are nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the president, are in charge of the policies and day-to-day operations of these departments.

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