Think Italians are best known for hot cars and delicious food? How about their wild and wooly politics? Italians head to the polls again today in a second day of voting to elect Italy’s 63rd prime minister since the end of World War II. Keeping score at home? We’ve only had 11 presidents in that window. How about a break from the US election? Let’s take a peeksy at what the Italians have been up to — and then meet the top two candidates later today.
The Italians called early elections in January after the prime minister up and quit. This is not as sensational as it sounds: In the last 50 years, all but one government — that of conservative Silvio Berlusconi’s from 2001-2006 — have dissolved before their time. Why the revolving door? To find out, read more.
There are 36 active political parties in Italy today. And if two parties can run a country, 36 is a crowd. With so many competing for power — 20 held parliament seats in 2006 — consensus is monstrously hard to reach making the country hard to lead. Most prime ministers have found it impossible.
Though there are 32 candidates in today’s election, only two are viable for the first time in Italy's history: to the center-right is former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi (yep, he's running again), and to the center-left is former mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni. Basta for now! Check back in a bit to learn all about these colorful characters.