Forming of the Government

Article 92 of the Italian Constitution regulates the formation of the Government with a very simple and concise formula: "The President of the Republic shall appoint a President of the Council of Ministers, on whose proposal the President of the Republic shall appoint Ministers". 

According to the formula, the process of forming the Government does not seem to be the result of a proper procedure. In practice it is a complex and structured process involving consultations (preparatory phase), mandate and appointment. 

Before taking office, the Prime Minister and the Ministers must swear in and receive a vote of confidence from both Houses of Parliament, as laid out in Articles 93 and 94 of the Constitution.

The preparatory phase 

This phase consists in consultations held by the President, to find the potential Prime Minister capable of forming a government and getting the vote of confidence from the Parliament majority under the constitutional system. This mechanism arises every time a government crisis occurs due to loss of trust or due to the resignation of the government in office. The order of consultations is regulated by a mere constitutional etiquette, and over the years it has been subject to changes (in some cases the President of the Republic has omitted talks which usually take place in accordance with constitutional praxis). Basically this phase is truly restricted to those consultations which could be necessary, namely consultations with the Parliamentary Group Leaders and representatives of the coalitions, in addition to the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament who must be heard when the Houses are dissolved. By way of example, it may be said that the current list of figures consulted by the President of the Republic include the Speakers of both Houses; former Presidents of the Republic and political delegations. 

The mandate

Although not explicitly laid down by the Constitution, before appointing the Prime Minister an exploratory mandate may be given if consultations have not determined a precise orientation. A part from this case, the President gives the mandate directly to the figure who is able to form a government – following recommendations from majority groups - and win Parliament’s confidence. The assignment of the mandate is essentially a customary practice meeting constitutional needs. During a crisis resolution the Head of the State is not legally free to  select the candidate, since he is bound to select a political figure that can form a new government and win Parliament’s confidence. The  mandate is only given orally after talks between the President of the Republic and the selected candidate. A press release announcing the mandate is sent out to radios and televisions by the General Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic. Once the mandate has been given the President of the Republic cannot interfere with the Prime Minister’s decisions nor can it be revoked for purely political reasons. 

The appointment

Generally the selected candidate accepts with all reserves, after a short round of consultations, and later goes back to the Head of State to lift the reserve – either positively or negatively.  Immediately after lifting the reserve positively, the decrees appointing the Head of the Executive branch and the Ministers are signed and countersigned. In summary, the whole procedure ends with three different types of decrees issued by the President of the Republic: 

  • Appointment of the Prime Minister (countersigned by the appointed Prime Minister, to certify acceptance); 
  • Appointment of individual ministers (countersigned by the Prime Minister); 
  • Acceptance of resignations from the outgoing Cabinet (countersigned by the appointed Prime Minister). 

Oath of office and confidence 

Before taking office, the Prime Minister and the Ministers are required to take an oath of allegiance in accordance with Article 1, paragraph 3, of Law No 400/88. The oath of office represents the duty of allegiance to the country for all citizens, especially those carrying out major public functions (in accordance with Article 54 of the Constitution). When appointed and sworn in, the government has ten days to win a confidence vote in both Houses of Parliament. The vote must be motivated by the parliamentary groups and be a roll-call vote to engage members of Parliament in their responsibilities towards the electorate. It is worth pointing out that the Prime Minister and the Ministers assume their responsibility since they have sworn in, before winning Parliamentary vote of confidence.

Oath of office

"I swear to be faithful to the Republic, to loyally observe its Const

Governo Italiano Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri