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Why do governments in Italy change so often?

A look at the factors driving this turnover.

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Why do governments in Italy change so often?

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Matteo Renzi’s resignation means Italy will have its fifth prime minister in as many years: former foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Gentiloni’s new government will be Italy’s 65th since January 1, 1946, according to Euronews’ analysis.

The UK, by comparison, has had 25 governments over the same period.

So why has Italy had such a high turnover?

Italy’s history of encouraging coalition government, the multiple wings of political parties creating internal conflict and the country’s relative youth are all factors, says Dr Nicola Chelotti, an expert on Italian politics from Loughborough University London.


Chelotti said electoral rule changes in the early 1990s turned Italy more towards majority governments.

The figures back this up: Italy had 52 governments from 1946 to 1993, meaning each one lasted around 10.8 months.

Since then, there have been, including Gentiloni’s, 13 administrations, equal to one every 21.2 months.

The latest change at the top came about after Matteo Renzi stepped down because he lost a constitutional referendum, itself designed, in part, to make Italian governments more stable.

But even if Renzi’s reforms had succeeded, it would not have cured the fact Italian political parties have multiple wings, claimed Chelotti.

“You can give a lot of seats to a party but the problem is a day after they don’t follow the [party] line and they are prone to rebellion,” he added.

“Also, the fact the state and republic is relatively young there’s no sense of stability and belonging to the state, for a lot of different reasons.

“The country was occupied by foreign countries for long periods, so the people had to adapt to each new situation. That plays some part, too.”

Notes on our analysis

We began by looking at Italy’s government since 1946, and, by way of comparison, studying the UK, Germany and France, too.

To our surprise, France has actually had more governments than Italy.

However, much of this was linked to the post-war period. France had 27 governments in the 13 years up to the founding of the Fifth Republic, or one every 5.7 months, compared with a new administration every 17.5 months from 1959 onwards.

For each country we counted from January 1, 1946, except Germany, for whom we started in January 1949, at the start of the Federal Republic.