Italian Government in Danger of Collapse

For most of the last hundred years, “Italian Government in Danger of Collapse” was an axiom, not a news headline. No longer.

Italian Government in Danger of Collapse (VOA News)

Italy’s longest post-war government risks collapse. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in trouble after two small parties withdrew their support from the governing center-right coalition. The centrist UDC party, which has four ministers in government, was the first to decide to withdraw its support from the center-right government. Then, the new Italian Socialist party, which has only two minor government posts, followed its example. The parties had called on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign and form a new government following heavy losses in regional elections earlier this month. Mr. Berlusconi refused and the parties pulled out.

The parties say they will still support Mr. Berlusconi in the parliament. But Italy’s longest serving prime minister since World War II risks the collapse of his four party center-right coalition government. After losing 11 out of 13 regions in local elections held at the beginning of April and with general elections coming up in 2006, Mr. Berlusconi has come under increasing pressure from his coalition allies.

The nature of multiparty systems is that tiny parties that join a coalition have inordinate power. Political scientists call this “the tail wagging the dog.” That Berlusconi has held his coalition together so long is a modern marvel. That he’s done it in the face of scandals and the controvery over the war in Iraq is more amazing, still.

For some perspective, take a look at this list:

Italian Prime Ministers
1861 Camillo Benso, Conte de Cavour
1861 – 1862 Bettino Ricàsoli
1862 Urbano Rattazzi
1862 – 1863 Luigi Carlo Farini
1863 – 1864 Marco Minghetti
1964 – 1866 Alfonso Ferrero, Cavaliere La-Màrmora
1866 – 1867 Bettino Ricàsoli (2nd time)
1867 – 1867 Urbano Rattazzi (2nd time)
1867 – 1869 Federico Luigi, Conte Menabrea
1869 – 1873 Giovanni Lanza
1873 – 1876 Marco Minghetti (2nd time)
1876 – 1878 Agostino Depretis
1878 Benedetto Càiroli
1878 – 1879 Agostino Depretis (2nd time)
1879 – 1881 Benedetto Càiroli (2nd time)
1881 – 1887 Agostino Depretis (3rd time)
1887 – 1891 Francesco Crispi
1891 – 1892 Antonio Starabba, Marchese di Rudinì
1892 – 1893 Giovanni Giolitti
1893 – 1896 Francesco Crispi (2nd time)
1896 – 1898 Antonio Starabba, Marchese di Rudinì (2nd time)
1898 – 1900 Luigi Pelloux
1900 – 1901 Giuseppe Saracco
1901 – 1903 Giuseppe Zanardelli
1903 – 1905 Giovanni Giolitti (2nd time)
1905 – 1906 Alessandro Fortis
1906 Sidney Sonnino
1906 – 1909 Giovanni Giolitti (3rd time)
1909 – 1910 Sidney Sonnino (2nd time)
1910 – 1911 Luigi Luzzatti
1911 – 1914 Giovanni Giolitti (4th time)
1914 – 1916 Antonio Salandra
1916 – 1917 Paolo Boselli
1917 – 1919 Vittorio Emanuele Orlando
1919 – 1920 Francesco Saverio Nitti
1920 – 1921 Giovanni Giolitti (5th time)
1921 – 1922 Ivanoe Bonomi
1922 Luigi Facta
1922 – 1943 Benito Mussolini (il Duce)
1943 – 1944 Pietro Badoglio (Provisional Military Government)
1944 – 1945 Ivanoe Bonomi (2nd time)
1945 Ferruccio Parri
1945 – 1953 Alcide De Gasperi
1953 – 1954 Giuseppe Pella
1954 Amintore Fanfani
1954 – 1955 Mario Scelba
1955 – 1957 Antonio Segni
1957 – 1958 Adone Zoli
1958 – 1959 Amintore Fanfani (2nd time)
1959 – 1960 Antonio Segni (2nd time)
1960 Fernando Tambroni-Armaroli
1960 – 1963 Amintore Fanfani (3rd time)
1963 Giovanni Leone
1963 – 1968 Aldo Moro
1968 Giovanni Leone (2nd time)
1968 – 1970 Mariano Rumor
1970 – 1972 Emilio Colombo
1972 – 1973 Giulio Andreotti
1973 – 1974 Mariano Rumor (2nd time)
1974 – 1976 Aldo Moro (2nd time)
1976 – 1979 Giulio Andreotti (2nd time)
1979 – 1980 Francesco Cossiga
1980 – 1981 Arnaldo Forlani
1981 – 1982 Giovanni Spadolini
1982 – 1983 Amintore Fanfani (4th time)
1983 – 1987 Bettino Craxi
1987 Amintore Fanfani (5th time)
1987 – 1988 Giovanni Goria
1988 – 1989 Ciriaco De Mita
1989 – 1992 Giulio Andreotti (3rd time)
1992 – 1993 Giuliano Amato
1993 – 1994 Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
1994 – 1995 Silvio Berlusconi
1995 – 1996 Lamberto Dini
1996 – 1998 Romano Prodi
1998 – 2000 Massimo D’Alema
2000 – 2001 Giuliano Amato (2nd time)
2001 – today Silvio Berlusconi (2nd time)

Update: It occurs to me that it’s about time for a Polish guy, no?

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    Gracious, Berlusconi is fast becoming the Louis XIV of Italian politics. No wonder the voters are getting bored with him.

  2. Berlusconi on the ropes
    Saturday’s New York Times reports on the withdrawal of the Christian Democratic Union from Italy’s center-right coalition government under Silvio Berluconi. The withdrawal may lead to either a new government or fresh elections, the latter of which …