The Chamber of Deputies (Italian: Camera dei deputati) is a house of the bicameral Parliament of Italy (the other being the Senate of the Republic). The two houses together form a perfect bicameral system, meaning they perform identical functions, but do so separately. Pursuant to article 56 of the Italian Constitution, the Chamber of Deputies has 630 seats, of which 618 are elected from Italian constituencies, and 12 from Italian citizens living abroad. Deputies are styled The Honourable (Italian: Onorevole) and meet at Palazzo Montecitorio. The Chamber and the parliamentary system of the Italian Republic and under the previous Kingdom of Italy is a continuation of the traditions and procedures of the Parliament and Chamber of Deputies as established under King Charles Albert (1798–1849), during the Revolutions of 1848, and his son Victor Emmanuel II (1820–1878) of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont which led in the "Italian unification Risorgimento movement" of the 1850s and 1860s, under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Count Camillo Benso of Cavour ("Count Cavour").[clarification needed]
The seat of the Chamber of Deputies is the Palazzo Montecitorio, where it has met since 1871, shortly after the capital of the Kingdom of Italy was moved to Rome at the successful conclusion of the Italian unification Risorgimento movement.
Previously, the seat of the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy had been briefly at the Palazzo Carignano in Turin (1861–1865) and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (1865–1871). Under the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, the Chamber of Deputies was abolished and replaced by the figurehead Chamber of Fasci and Corporations from 1939 to 1943 (during World War II).
The Chamber is composed of all members meeting in session at the Montecitorio. The assembly also has the right to attend meetings of the Government and its ministers. If required, the Government is obligated to attend the session. Conversely, the Government has the right to be heard every time it requires.
The term of office of the House (as well as the Senate) is five years, but can be extended in two cases:
Election of members to the Chamber of Deputies is by voluntary, universal, direct suffrage by all citizens of age on election day. Terms last for a total of five years, unless an early dissolution of the Chamber is called by the President of the Republic (e.g. as a result of parliamentary deadlock), at which point a snap election is held. Unlike the Senate, which requires members to be 40 years of age, members of the Chamber of Deputies may be elected at 25.
The current system for elections to the Chamber of Deputies has been in operation since 2015. The territory of Italy is divided into 100 constituencies electing between 3 and 9 deputies depending on their size. For each constituency, the parties designate a list of candidates: "head of list" candidates can run in up to 10 constituencies, while other candidates are limited to a single constituency. Gender balance is promoted by requiring that, in each region, head of lists of either sex for the same party should not exceed 60% of the total; additionally, candidates in all lists must be in a sequence alternating by gender.
Voters receive a ballot allowing them to vote for a single party and for its head of list candidate (pre-printed on the ballot), and are given the option to express up to two additional preference votes for other candidates of that party, by writing their name next to the party symbol. If two preference votes are expressed, they must be of a different sex: otherwise, the second preference is discarded.
Only parties passing a 3% minimum threshold in the first round are assigned seats. If the party receiving the plurality of the votes wins at least 40 percent of the vote, it is guaranteed a minimum of 340 seats (54%), an absolute majority. The remaining 277 seats are allocated to the other parties proportionally using the largest remainder method.
If no party is able to pass the 40% threshold, the law originally provided for a second round to take place two weeks after the first one. The party winning the second round wins 340 seats, and the remaining 277 seats were allocated to the other parties proportionally using the largest remainder method, according to the results of the first round. This provision was however rendered null and void by a Constitutional Court judgment in January 2017.
Each party receives a certain number of seats depending on its national result: these seats are then projected onto the 100 constituencies and attributed to the candidates of that constituency, starting from the head of list and then according to the number of preference votes.
Article 61 of the Italian Constitution maintains that elections for the Chamber of Deputies must take place within 70 days of the dissolution of the house, and that representatives must convene within 20 days of those elections.
The President of the Chamber of Deputies (Presidente della Camera dei Deputati) performs the role of speaker of the house and is elected during the first session after the election. During this time the prerogatives of speaker are assumed by the vice president of Chamber of Deputies of the previous legislature who was elected first. If two were elected simultaneously, the oldest deputy serves as president of Chamber of Deputies.
The President of Chamber of Deputies has also the role of President during the Parliament joint sessions, when the upper and lower houses have to vote together.
This a list of Presidents of the Italian Chamber of Deputies:
|Giovanni Gronchi (DC)||8 May 1948 – 29 April 1955||I, II|
|Giovanni Leone (DC)||10 May 1955 – 21 June 1963||II, III|
|Brunetto Bucciarelli-Ducci (DC)||26 June 1963 – 4 June 1968||IV|
|Sandro Pertini (PSI)||5 June 1968 – 4 July 1976||V, VI|
|Pietro Ingrao (PCI)||5 July 1976 – 19 June 1979||VII|
|Nilde Iotti (PCI)||20 June 1979 – 22 April 1992||VIII, IX, X|
|Oscar Luigi Scalfaro (DC)||24 April 1992 – 25 May 1992||XI|
|Giorgio Napolitano (PDS)||3 June 1992 – 14 April 1994||XI|
|Irene Pivetti (LN)||16 April 1994 – 8 May 1996||XII|
|Luciano Violante (PDS)||10 May 1996 – 29 May 2001||XIII|
|Pier Ferdinando Casini (CCD)||30 May 2001 – 28 April 2006||XIV|
|Fausto Bertinotti (PRC)||29 April 2006 – 28 April 2008||XV|
|Gianfranco Fini (PdL/FLI)||29 April 2008 – 15 March 2013||XVI|
|Laura Boldrini (SEL)||16 March 2013 – 23 March 2018||XVII|
|Roberto Fico (M5S)||since 24 March 2018||XVIII|
Back side of Palazzo Montecitorio, designed by architect Ernesto Basile