U.S. Edition
COUNTRY Italian Republic
ELECTION TYPE Parliamentary
DATE April 9, 2006
At stake in this election:
  • 315 seats in the Senate (Senato della Repubblica)
  • 630 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati)
Description of government structure:
  • Chief of State: President Carlo Azeglio CIAMPI
  • Head of Government: Prime Minister Silvio BERLUSCONI
  • Assembly: Italy has a bicameral Parliament (Parlamento) consisting of the Senate (Senato della Repubblica) with 322 seats and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati) with 630 seats.
Description of electoral system:
  • The President is elected by the Parliament in joint session to serve a 7-year term.
  • In the Senate (Senato della Repubblica), 315 members are elected by party list proportional representation, 5 members are appointed by the President of the Republic, and 2 members are ex-officio (former Presidents of the Republic); the elected ones serve 5-year terms, whereas the appointed and the ex-officio serve for life.
  • In the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati), 630 members are elected through a party-list proportional representation system to serve 5-year terms. Party coalitions need to obtain at least 10% of the valid votes to gain seats in the Chamber. Parties running independent of any coalitions must obtain 4% of the valid votes.
Main parties in the electoral race:
  • Coalition: House of Freedoms / Casa delle Liberta'*
    Leader: Silvio BERLUSCONI
    Seats won in last Senate election: 177
    Seats won in last Chamber of Deputies election: 368

  • Coalition: The Union / L'Unione**
    Leader: Romano PRODI
    Seats won in last Senate election: 125
    Seats won in last Chamber of Deputies election: 242

*The House of Freedoms Coalition includes Go Italy (Forza Italia), the National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale), the Northern League (Lega Nord), the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC), the Socialist Party – new PSI (Nuovo PSI), the Italian Republican Party, the Liberal Reformers, the Christian Democracy for the Autonomies, plus several far right groups.

** The Union regroups many of the parties that composed the Olive Tree coalition of centre-left parties in the 1996 and 2001 general elections. Currently, the Union includes Democrats of the Left (Democratici di Sinistra), Daisy-Democracy is Freedom (Margherita-Democrazia è Libertà), the Communist Refoundation Party (Partito della Rifondazione Comunista), Federation of the Greens (Federazione dei Verdi), Party of Italian Communists (Partito dei Comunisti Italiani), Italian Democratic Socialists (Socialisti Democratici Italiani), Italian Radicals (Radicali Italiani), Italy of Values (Italia dei Valori), Popular-UDEUR (Popolari-UDEUR), The Socialists (I Socialisti), and the Pensioners' Party (Partito dei Pensionati).

When was the last election?
  • The last elections for both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies were held on May 13, 2001.
Population and number of registered voters:
  • Population: 58,103,033 (July 2005 est.)
  • Number of registered voters: 50,000,000 (March 2006 est.; this number includes about 46,500,000 domestic voters and 3,500,000 Italians living abroad.)
Of interest:
  • In this election, 6 senators and 12 deputies are, for the first time, elected by Italian citizens residing abroad.
  • In December 2005, Silvio Berlusconi's government pushed through a new electoral law that introduced a proportional system for elections to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The new legislation also provides for a majority bonus to be given to the coalition receiving the highest number of votes so that the winning coalition will have no less than 340 seats in the House of Deputies. A slightly different majority bonus is contemplated for the Senate as well. Before that, 75% of the seats in the Italian parliament were allocated through elections in single-member constituencies and 25% were allocated through proportional representation.
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