Italy is governed under the constitution of 1948 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by both houses of Parliament and 58 regional representatives for a seven-year term; there are no term limits. The premier, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president and approved by Parliament. The Council of Ministers, head by the premier, serves as the country's executive; it must have the confidence of parliament. The bicameral parliament consists of the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies, whose members are popularly elected, and the Senate, with 315 members elected by region, plus a few life members. All legislators serve five-year terms. In 1994, 1996, and 2001, most deputies and senators were directly elected, with approximately a quarter of the seats in both houses assigned on a proportional basis. Changes enacted in 2005 returned the country to a proportional system for electing national legislators except for those seats awarded to the winning coalition as a bonus. Administratively the country is divided into 15 regions and five autonomous regions, which also have parliaments and governments.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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