The Chamber and the Powers of the State
The Italian constitutional system calls for the interweaving and balancing of the various state powers rather than a rigid
separation between them. At the base of the institutional cycle are the people, who elect their own representatives to
Parliament is composed of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic, which have equal tasks and powers (so-called perfect bicameralism). It lies at the heart of the system, although it does not subsume all the powers of the state. The Parliament legislates but laws alone are not enough: concrete implementing measures must be issued by the Government and the public administration, the Judiciary and other state authorities must consistently act on them. This is true not only of the central Government, but also for the regions, the provinces and the municipalities, each of which is an autonomous expression of the people's will.
The Government, the President of the Republic, the Constitutional Court and the Higher Council of the Judiciary ("Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura") are, at least, in part, expressions of the Parliament. The Judiciary, on the other hand, represents an order that is autonomous and independent of all other powers.
The President of the Republic is elected by Parliament in a joint session attended also by delegates from the Regions.
He may be impeached only for high treason or for offences against the Constitution by decision of Parliament sitting in joint session. However, some of the presidential powers have a strong influence on Parliament, as the Head of the State can call an election or an early dissolution of the two Houses, he promulgates all the bills approved by Parliament, which have the force of law only after he has signed them; he can return a bill to the Parliament for further consideration instead of promulgating it.
One of the main tasks of the judges of the Constitutional Court (elected in part by Parliament in joint session) is to assess the constitutional legitimacy of the bills passed by the two Houses, and they also have the power to cancel them as unconstitutional. Parliament elects also one third of the members of the self-governing body of the judiciary, the Higher Council of the Judiciary.
In the Italian form of parliamentary government, the relations between Government and Parliament are very close and intense. The Government, appointed by the President of the Republic, must gain and retain the confidence of the Chamber and the Senate, which vote separately. After its formation, it must therefore present its programme to each House. At the end of the debate, the Houses express a vote of confidence. This "confidence" may be challenged by presenting a no confidence motion before the Chamber or the Senate. The Government itself may also call for a formal verification of the majority supporting it by making the approval (or the rejection) of a bill it considers of vital importance for its action a question of confidence. A vote against the Government's position on such occasions (in which parliamentary debate and vote take on special forms) entails the resignation of the Government.
The Government's participation in the parliamentary work (which, depending on the circumstances, involves the President of the Council, the Ministers or the Under-Secretaries) is constant and very intense: the introduction of bills, participation in planning the parliamentary agenda, the request to express its opinion on practically all the issues pending before the House or the Committees: the Government must be heard whenever it so requests.
On the other hand, Parliament has effective means, besides the passing of laws, to ensure the ongoing fact-finding policy, orientation and security activities with respect to Government's action, within the framework of the relationship of confidence between the two bodies.
Text courtesty of the Chamber of Deputies Site: http://english.camera.it/