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Prime Minister of Italy
Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri della Repubblica Italiana
Flag of prime minister of Italy.svg
Flag of the President of the Council of Ministers
Incumbent
Silvio Berlusconi

since 8 May 2008
Residence Chigi Palace
Appointer President of the Republic
Inaugural holder Camillo Benso di Cavour
Formation 17 March 1861
Website www.governo.it
Italian Republic

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Italy



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The Prime Minister of Italy (Italian: Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri, literally translated "President of the Council of Ministers") is Italy's head of government. According to the formal Italian order of precedence, the position of prime minister is ceremonially the fourth most important Italian state office; however, in reality, the prime minister is the most powerful and thus truly most important person in the Italian government. This situation can mirror the position of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and indeed that of most other prime ministers, but Italian PM is weaker than the major part of his colleagues: he can't ask for the dissolution of Parliament, he can't dismiss his ministers and, for the large majority of his political activity, he must receive the vote of his Council of Ministers, which holds the effective Executive Power.

The prime minister is a constitutional office, established by articles 92, 93, 94, 95, and 96 of the Italian Constitution. The prime minister is appointed by the President. The current prime minister is Silvio Berlusconi.

The seat of the government is in Palazzo Chigi, located at Piazza Colonna in Rome.

Contents

Official title

The title of Italy's head of government in Italian is Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri. Literally translated, this means "President of the Council of Ministers". However, because "prime minister" or "premier" is the more usual title in a parliamentary system for a head of government in English-speaking nations, the head of the Italian government is usually referred to by English speakers as the "Prime Minister of Italy".

The office of prime minister was inherited by Italy directly from its predecessor State, the Kingdom of Sardinia, where the office was created in 1848, even if it was not part of the Constitution, the Albertine Statute. The position of prime minister, appointed by the King of Italy, was very unstable: in its first 60 years of existence, Italy changed its prime minister 37 times. In this situation, the first goal of Benito Mussolini when he reached the office, was to abolish the Parliament's ability to put him to a vote of no confidence, thus basing his power on the wills of the King and the Party only. With the proclamation of the Republic in 1946, the office received constitutional recognition, but it returned to its traditional instability: 38 men assumed the office in 63 years.

Functions

Cavour, first Italian Prime Minister.

In addition to powers inherent in being a member of the cabinet, the prime minister holds specific powers, the most notable of which include the nomination of a list of cabinet ministers to be appointed by the President of the Republic and the countersigning of all legislative instruments having the force of law that are signed by the President of the Republic.

Article 95 of the Italian constitution provides that "the prime minister directs and coordinates the activity of the ministers". This power has been used to a quite variable extent in the history of the Italian state, as it is strongly influenced by the political strength of individual ministers and thus by the parties they represent.

Often the prime minister's activity consists more in mediating between the various parties in the majority coalition, rather than directing the activity of the Council of Ministers. In addition, the prime minister's supervisory power is further limited by the fact that, at least formally, he or she does not have the authority to fire those ministers with whom he or she might be in disagreement. The practice of rimpasto ("reshuffle"), or the rarer "individual vote of no confidence" on the part of Parliament, may be considered substitute measures for this formally absent power.

More recently, the rise of a new mode of politics, which according to some is ever more linked to the mediating skills of politicians, and the enactment of majoritarian electoral laws have, in practice, given the prime minister a greater power to make decisions and to direct the internal dynamics of the government. This represents a notable novelty for the Italian political system.

The prime minister also chairs the COPACO, a committee for the co-ordination of Italian intelligence agencies.

See also

References

External links

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