Italian Parliament

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Italian Parliament
Parlamento Italiano
Coat of arms or logo
Houses Senate of the Republic
Chamber of Deputies
President of the Senate
Pietro Grasso (PD)
Since 2013
President of the Chamber of Deputies
Laura Boldrini (SEL)
Since 2013
Seats 950
320 senators (315 elected + 5 for life)
630 deputies
Senate of Italy 2014.svg
Senate of the Republic political groups
Chamber of Deputies of Italy 2014.svg
Chamber of Deputies political groups
24–25 February 2013
Chamber of Deputies last election
24–25 February 2013
Meeting place
Chamber of DeputiesPalazzo Montecitorio
Senate of the RepublicPalazzo Madama
Emblem of Italy.svg
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The Italian Parliament (Italian: Parlamento Italiano) is the national parliament of the Italian Republic. It is a bicameral legislature with 945 elected members (parlamentari). It is composed of the Chamber of Deputies, with 630 members (deputati),[1] and the Senate of the Republic, with 315 elected members (senatori), plus a small number (currently 5) of senators for life (senatori a vita), either appointed or ex officio.[2] Both houses have the same duties and powers, and the Constitution does not make distinctions between them. But, because the President of the Senate stands in the role of Head of State when the President of the Republic needs to be replaced, the Senate is traditionally considered the upper house.

Function of the Parliament[edit]

The Parliament is the representative body of Italian citizens.

By the Republican Constitution of 1948, the two houses of the Italian Parliament possess the same powers: this particular form of parliamentary democracy (the so-called perfect bicameralism) has been coded in the current form since the adoption of the Albertine Statute and resurged after the dismissal of the fascist dictatorship of the 1920s and 1930s during World War II.

The two houses are independent from one another and never meet jointly except under circumstances specified by the Constitution. The Chamber of Deputies has 630 members, while the Senate has 315 elected members and a small number of life senators: former Presidents of the Republic and up to five members appointed by the President for having contributed to the country's high achievement in the social or scientific field. As of February 2016 there are five life senators (five appointed and one former President).[3]

The main prerogative of the Parliament is the exercise of legislative power, that is the power to enact laws. For a bill to become law, it must receive the support of both houses independently in the same text. A bill is first introduced in one of the houses, amended, and then approved or rejected: if approved, it is passed to the other house, which can amend it before approving or rejecting it. If approved without amendments, the bill is then promulgated by the President of the Republic and becomes law. If approved with amendments, it is goes back to the other house. The process continues until the bill is approved in the same text by both houses (in which case it becomes law after promulgation) or is rejected by one house.

The Council of Ministers, which is lead by the Prime Minister and is the national executive of Italy, needs to have the confidence of both houses.[4] It must receive a vote of confidence by both houses before being officially in power, and the Parliament can cast a motion of no confidence at any moment, which forces the Prime Minister and their Cabinet to resign. If the President of the Republic is unable to find a new Prime Minister able to receive the support of both houses, they can dissolve the houses and new elections are held.

The Parliament meets and votes in joint session only on the following matters explicitly established by the Constitution:[5]

  • to elect the President of the Republic (in this case, 58 regional delegates are added to the assembly)[6] and to receive their oath of office;[7]
  • to elect five of the fifteen judges of the Constitutional Court;[8]
  • to elect one third of the elected members of the High Council of the Judiciary;[9]
  • to vote on the impeachment of the President of the Republic[10] (an accusation of "high treason or attack to the Constitution", though this has never happened);
  • to vote on the list of citizens from which sixteen lay members of the Constitutional Court are to be drawn in case of impeachment against the President of the Republic.[11]

Electoral system[edit]

Main article: Italian Electoral Law

Election of the Senate[edit]

The election of the Senate is still regulated by Law no. 270, December 21, 2005, which however was judged to be partly unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in December 2013.[12] It introduces a regional based proportional representation system corrected with a majority bonus, with the following characteristics:[13]

  • The election uses a closed list system: seats are assigned based on the order of the candidates in the party list.
  • Parties can run in coalitions. To be entitled to a share of seats, parties or coalitions need to pass an elaborate system of election threshold, based on regional votes: coalitions need to have at least 20% of the votes and a list with at least 3% of the votes; parties or lists need at least 8% of the votes (lowered to 3% if the party or list is part of a coalition that meets the threshold).
  • In each Region, except for three, at least 55% of the seats are assigned to the coalition or list which received the most votes. The Aosta Valley elects one senator, so it uses a first past the post system. Molise elects two senators with a proportional system (no majority bonus). Trentino-South Tyrol uses a mixed member proportional system: it elects 6 senators in first past the post constituencies, plus one senator based on regional proportional voting.
Number of senators currently assigned to each Region.

Election of the Chamber of Deputies[edit]

The Italian Electoral law of 2015, officially Law no. 52, May 6, 2015,[14] (colloquially known by the nickname Italicum, given to it in 2014 by the Democratic Party secretary and subsequently Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who was its main proponent) regulates the election of the Chamber of Deputies. It introduces a two-round system based on party-list proportional representation, with the following characteristics:[15]

  • The party or list which gains 40% or more of the votes during the first turn gains 340 seats (out of 630). The remaining 290 seats are proportionally distributed among the other parties which pass a 3% election threshold.
  • If no party manages to gain 40% or more of the votes on the first round, a second round of voting is held betweeen the two parties which received the most votes. The winner of the second round gains 340 seats.
  • The national territory is divided into 20 electoral districts, further divided into 100 multi-member constituencies, except in the Aosta Valley and Trentino-South Tyrol Regions, where constituencies are single-member.
  • The first elected candidate for each list is always the first candidate on the list (capolista). Starting from the second candidate, seats are assigned according to open list preferences: each voter can express two preferences, but they must be for candidates of different genders.

The law, which came into force on 1 July 2016, has yet to be used for an election. The previous elections were regulated by the previous electoral law approved in 2005 (also called Porcellum by the media), partly judged to be unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in December 2013.[16][17]

Overseas constituencies[edit]

The Italian Parliament is one of the few legislatures in the world to reserve seats for those citizens residing abroad. There are twelve such seats in the Chamber of Deputies and six in the Senate.[18]



The current membership of the Italian Senate, following the latest political elections of 24 and 25 February 2013:

Coalition Party Seats
Pier Luigi Bersani:
Italy. Common Good
Democratic Party (PD) 111
Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) 7
South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) 2
Trentino Tyrolean Autonomist Party (PATT) 1
Union for Trentino (UPT) 1
The Megaphone – Crocetta List (IM-LC) 1
Total 123
Silvio Berlusconi:
Centre-right coalition
The People of Freedom (PdL) 98
Lega Nord (LN) 18
Great South (GS) 1
Total 117
Beppe Grillo: Five Star Movement (M5S) 54
Mario Monti: With Monti for Italy 19
Associative Movement Italians Abroad (MAIE) 1
Aosta Valley coalition (VdA) Valdostan Union (UV) 1
Total 315
Palazzo Madama seat of the Senate.
Popular vote (S)
Distribution of the 315 parliamentary seats (S)

Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Coalition Party Seats
Pier Luigi Bersani:
Italy. Common Good
Democratic Party (PD) 297
Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) 37
Democratic Centre (CD) 6
South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) 5
Total 345
Silvio Berlusconi:
Centre-right coalition
The People of Freedom (PdL) 98
Lega Nord (LN) 18
Brothers of Italy (FdI) 9
Total 125
Beppe Grillo: Five Star Movement (M5S) 109
Mario Monti:
With Monti for Italy
Civic Choice (SC) 37[a]
Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC) 8
With Monti for Italy (SC abroad) 2
Total 47
Associative Movement Italians Abroad (MAIE) 2
South American Union Italian Emigrants (USEI) 1
Aosta Valley coalition (VdA) Edelweiss (SA) 1
Total 630
Popular vote (C)
Distribution of the 630 parliamentary seats (C)

As illustrated by the bars above, the Bersani-led coalition won the plurality in the nationwide election with a 0.4% lead over the nearest coalition, and thus - as defined by the Italian election law - was granted a majority bonus equal to an automatic 55% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies.


The buckler so fallen on Italian Chambers, far from protecting them, revealed itself counterproductive to the image of the parliamentary institution[21]

In some matters (employment et al.) Italian Chambers act as judicial authority (without using external courts).[22] The order no. 137 of 2015 the Italian Constitutional Court[23] - agreeing to discuss again the same appeal on Lorenzoni case,[24] dismissed one year before - has recognized the possibility that such exercise could be in violation of the powers of Judiciary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Incl. the Union for Trentino (UPT) party leader Lorenzo Dellai, who decided not to submit his own party list for the Monti-coalition, but opted to be a direct part of the Civic Choice list.[19][20]


  1. ^ Article 56 of the Constitution
  2. ^ Article 57, 58, and 59 of the Constitution
  3. ^
  4. ^ Against the mingling of confidence vote and legislative process see (Italian) D. Argondizzo and G. Buonomo, Spigolature intorno all’attuale bicameralismo e proposte per quello futuro, in Mondoperaio online, 2 aprile 2014.
  5. ^ Article 55 of the Constitution.
  6. ^ Article 83 of the Constitution.
  7. ^ Article 91 of the Constitution.
  8. ^ Article 135 of the Constitution.
  9. ^ Article 104 of the Constitution.
  10. ^ Article 90 of the Constitution.
  11. ^ Article 135 of the Constitution.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ (Italian) LEGGE 6 maggio 2015, n. 52.
  15. ^
  16. ^ (Italian) [1] Riforma elettorale
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Presentazione delle candidature per la circoscrizione estero" [Submission of nominations for the constituency abroad]. Ministry of the Interior of Italy. 
  19. ^ "List Monti in Trentino: Lorenzo Dellai and candidates from Societa' Civile" (in Italian). l'Adige. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  20. ^ "Regional elections, the idea of coalition wins" (in Italian). l'Adige. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  21. ^ Buonomo, Giampiero (1998). "L'ultima tappa della giurisprudenza sugli interna corporis: la sentenza Calderoli".   – via Questia (subscription required)
  22. ^ According to the European Court of Human rights, in Italy "«autodichia», c'est-à-dire l'autonomie normative du Parlement" (judgement 28 April 2009, Savino and others v. Italy).
  23. ^
  24. ^ See Giampiero Buonomo, Lo scudo di cartone, 2015, Rubbettino Editore, p. 224 (§ 5.5: La sentenza Lorenzoni), ISBN 9788849844405.
  • Gilbert, Mark (1995). The Italian Revolution: The End of Politics, Italian Style?. 
  • Koff, Sondra; Stephen P. Koff (2000). Italy: From the First to the Second Republic. 
  • Pasquino, Gianfranco (1995). "Die Reform eines Wahlrechtssystems: Der Fall Italien". Politische Institutionen im Wandel. 

External links[edit]