Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the
peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King
Victor Emmanuel II. An era of parliamentary government came to a
close in the early 1920s when Benito Mussolini came to power.
Following World War II, and the abolition of the monarchy, a
democratic republic was established.
Italy was a founder member of NATO and the European Economic
Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic
and political unification, and joined the Economic and Monetary
Union in 1999.
System of Government
Italy has a bicameral parliament consisting of the Senate with 315
seats elected by proportional votes, and the Chamber of Deputies
with 630 seats elected by popular vote. Parliament is elected for a
five-year term of office. The last elections were held in
April 2008. The Council of Ministers (cabinet) is
nominated by the Prime Minister and approved by the President.