Camera dei deputati

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Camera dei deputati
Chamber of Deputies
logo Palazzo Montecitorio (Rome)
logo Palazzo Montecitorio (Rome)
Basic data
Seat: Palazzo Montecitorio ,
Legislative period : 5 years
MPs: 630
Current legislative period
Last choice: 4th March 2018
Chair: Roberto Fico ( M5S )
Italian Chamber of Deputies current.svg
Distribution of seats: Government (337)
  • M5S 202
  • PD 90
  • IV 31
  • LeU 11
  • Others 3 ( MAEI )
  • Opposition (293)
  • Lega SP 126
  • FI 93
  • FdI 34
  • Others 40
  • Website

    The Chamber of Deputies ( Italian Camera dei deputati , usually just called Camera ) is the larger of the two chambers of Parliament in the Italian political system .

    The Italian Constitution defines the number of members of the Chamber of Deputies, as MPs (deputati) are referred to and the title onorevole (abbreviation on. About, 'honorable) lead to 630 firmly. In contrast to that of the senator, the office of deputy is only awarded by election and for a period of five years - with the exception of the case of early dissolution of parliament.

    The Italian Parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate ) can also meet together.

    Since 1871 the seat of the Chamber of Deputies has been the Palazzo Montecitorio in Rome .


    Kingdom of Italy

    The Palazzo Carignano in Turin, seat of the Chamber of Deputies from 1848 to 1865
    Engraving of the first plenary room in the Palazzo Carignano (1852)
    The Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where the chamber was located from 1865 to 1871
    The plenary hall in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in 1867
    The northern part of the Palazzo Montecitorio in Rome, built between 1908 and 1918 in Art Nouveau style, in which the plenary hall is located

    The Italian Chamber of Deputies has its origins in the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont , from which the Kingdom of Italy emerged in 1861 .

    The House of Savoy had ruled for around 800 years in its dominion on both sides of the Western Alps and, from 1720, also in Sardinia, largely without a parliament. The Estates General and the Sardinian Stamenti were very rarely convened. The revolution of 1848 forced Charles Albert of Savoy to issue a constitution ( Statuto Albertino ) and thus to introduce a constitutional monarchy . The constitution of 1848 provided for a two-chamber system : the Camera dei deputati formed the lower house , the Senato del Regno the upper house . The deputies were elected by an initially very small part of the people (almost two percent; women were completely excluded) after restricted census voting rights, the senators were appointed by the monarch for life. Both chambers of parliament were equally entitled to legislate.

    The Chamber of Deputies met from 1848 in the Palazzo Carignano in Turin , where it initially remained after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. In 1865 the more centrally located Florence became the Italian capital. In the Palazzo Vecchio there , the “Hall of the Five Hundred” was turned into a plenary hall . After the removal of the rest of the Papal States in 1870, Rome finally became the capital of Italy, where the Palazzo Montecitorio was chosen as the seat of the Chamber of Deputies. The first, rather provisional, plenary hall, built in a courtyard, opened on November 27, 1871, but it proved completely unsuitable in several respects and was completely abandoned in 1900. Plans for a new parliament building in Via Nazionale could not be realized. Because of the extensive renovation and expansion work in Palazzo Montecitorio, the Chamber of Deputies had to use a provisional meeting room in Via della Missione until 1918 .

    Until the First World War, the members of parliament were elected by a majority electoral system, whereby the census mentioned and other restrictions were gradually dismantled (in 1882 almost seven percent were eligible to vote, in 1913 over 23 percent). In 1848 the Chamber of Deputies had 204 members, in 1861 the number rose to 443 after the unification, in 1867 to 493, from 1870 to 1921 the chamber had 508 seats, from 1921 to 1929 it finally had 535 seats. The additional seats were necessary because of the various extensions of the area. It is also worth mentioning that the numbering of the legislative periods , which has been running since 1848, has not been changed despite the unification of Italy in 1861.

    In 1919, for the first time, all men of legal age were allowed to elect a new Chamber of Deputies by proportional representation. The socialists won with 32.3 percent clearly ahead of the new Christian Democratic People's Party , which came to 20.5 percent. Two years later, the fascists reached almost 20 percent in early elections. After Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister at the end of October 1922 , Parliament approved a new right to vote on November 14, 1923 , the so-called Acerbo Law . Although the proportional representation system was retained in principle, the strongest party or coalition should provide two-thirds of the MPs, provided that it was able to collect at least 25 percent of the votes. Mussolini's collection list, which in addition to fascists also included liberals, Catholics, conservatives and nationalists, achieved a result of 64.9 percent in the elections on April 6, 1924 and thus almost the two-thirds majority that she was already certain due to the new electoral law. This majority, but also the irresponsible attitude of the monarch, allowed Mussolini to overturn the basic democratic order of the Italian state in the following three years. It was proclaimed that fascism rejects the dogma of popular sovereignty and that the focus of fascist doctrine is the sovereignty of the state. As a result, the Chamber of Deputies was no longer to be a representative of the people , but a legislative state body in which only fascists had to sit. In the "elections" held in 1929 and 1934 one could only vote for or against the fascist unity list consisting of 400 candidates. The election results clearly indicated intimidation and election fraud .

    Before the upcoming “elections” in 1939, the Camera dei deputati was replaced by the Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni , the “Chamber of Associations and Guilds”, which apparently wanted to anchor the fascist social model of authoritarian corporatism institutionally, but actually only troublesome elections abolished. Membership in the new chamber was based on membership in the governing bodies of the fascist party and the various guilds . The number of members was not fixed; between 1939 and 1943 it was generally a little over 600. The Senate, actually intended as a political counterweight to the Chamber of Deputies, was sidelined primarily by the appointment of pro-government senators. In addition to the government, the most important political decision-making body remained the unconstitutional Grand Fascist Council , which Mussolini expressed suspicion on July 25, 1943.

    After the overthrow of Mussolini and the establishment of a new government by the king, the military-occupied Italy remained without an elected parliament until 1946. In April 1945, the Consulta Nazionale was set up, an advisory body of which around 300 and later over 400 members met in the Palazzo Montecitorio. The majority of the members of the Consulta belonged to the anti-fascist Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale , otherwise representatives of trade unions , business and cultural organizations were also represented. Among other things, her contribution to the preparations for the first democratic elections since 1924, in which women were allowed to participate for the first time in Italy, was significant . On June 2 and 3, 1946, the Assemblea Costituente was not only elected as a constituent assembly , but also voted on the future form of government , whereby the supporters of the republic were able to prevail against those of the monarchy . June 2nd is Italy's national holiday to this day .

    Republic of Italy

    The 556 members of the Assemblea Costituente , which met in the Palazzo Montecitorio until 1948, created the constitution of the Republic of Italy, which came into force on January 1, 1948. As parliamentarians, they also ratified international treaties, including the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 , exercised budgetary sovereignty and controlled the government led by Alcide De Gasperi , which was dependent on the confidence of the Constituent Assembly. On the basis of the new constitution, on April 18, 1948, the initially 574 members of the Camera dei deputati , which was thus restored, and the 237 senators of the new Senato della Repubblica were elected. Up until 1992, the elections were based purely on proportional representation without any blocking clause , which gave the small parties a disproportionate position of power. They reinforced their demands by regularly overthrowing governments but then rejoining new governments. The leading Christian Democratic Party needed these small coalition partners to prevent the impending democratic takeover of the very strong Communist Party . In the absence of alternatives, despite frequent changes of government, the Christian Democrats and their small coalition partners remained in power until the beginning of the 1990s and secured this for themselves through a generous social policy that exceeded Italy's financial possibilities and often through electoral agreements with the mafia.

    This party system collapsed in the 1990s in the wake of the Tangentopoli scandals. At the same time, the collapse of the Eastern Bloc led to a profound change in the Italian Communist Party, which renounced communism and, after winning the parliamentary elections in 1996, was able to play a decisive role as the democratic left in Italy. This upheaval, together with the introduction of extensive majority voting rights (1993), also marked the unofficial change from the first to the so-called second republic. In the years that followed, repeated attempts were made to end the equality of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate in the legislative process. The fact that the government is dependent on the trust of both parliamentary chambers has come under increasing criticism over time, especially in legislative periods in which there were different majorities in the two parliamentary chambers. The reform efforts that continue to this day would significantly strengthen the role of the Chamber of Deputies compared to that of a Senate limited to regional and constitutional matters.

    Election to the Chamber of Deputies

    The deputies are elected in general, direct, free, equal and secret ballot. Italian citizens who are at least 18 years old, including Italians living abroad, are eligible to vote. All eligible voters at least 25 years of age can be elected as members of parliament. Initially, the constitution provided for a variable number of MPs based on the population of each constituency . The number of MPs was finally set at 630 by a constitutional amendment made in 1963.

    While proportional representation was in force until 1993, which had not changed much for decades, there have been several fundamental changes since then. From 1993 to 2005 three quarters of the members of parliament were elected by majority vote and the remaining quarter by proportional representation. Majority and proportional representation were not completely separated. From 2005 to 2013, an electoral system was in place in which the seats were principally distributed proportionally, but the coalition or individual party with the largest number of votes was guaranteed 55% of the seats. After this regulation was declared unconstitutional in 2013 and this was partly the case with a succession regulation passed in 2015, a fundamentally new electoral system was introduced again in 2017. According to this, three eighths of the seats are distributed according to a relative majority vote in single-constituencies and five eighths proportionally, whereby a 3% hurdle applies to the proportional seats.

    Organs of the Chamber of Deputies


    The President of the Chamber of Deputies is chairman of the Presidium (Articles 5 and 12 of the Rules of Procedure known as “Internal Rules” ). It is made up of:

    • the four Vice Presidents who work with the President and, in the event of his absence, chair the plenary sessions in rotation,
    • the three quaestors,
    • at least eight members of the Secretariat (Articles 5 and 11 of the internal rules) to work with the President to ensure that votes are correct.

    The number of members of the Secretariat can be increased so that all “groups” ( parliamentary groups ) are represented in the Presidium (Art. 5, Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the internal regulations).


    The three Quaestors are members of the Chamber of Deputies who, according to the President's instructions, are jointly responsible for the proper functioning of administration, ceremonial, order and security in the Chamber of Deputies. They represent the College of Quaestors .


    For the purpose of the proper functioning of the parliament, the members of the Chamber of Deputies arrange themselves in parliamentary groups according to their political orientation (ital. Gruppi parlamentari , in Germany "parliamentary groups", in Austria " clubs "). A mixed group is provided for those MPs who do not form at least 20 and do not join any other group.

    Each group chairs and elects a president. The presidents of the groups meet in the Conference of Presidents to set the agenda and also take part in the deliberations of the President on the formation of a government.

    In principle there is peer pressure. Deviants can only be excluded from the group in serious cases.

    Conference of Presidents

    The Conference of Presidents consists of the presidents of the parliamentary groups. The President of the Chamber of Deputies holds the presidency. The government will be informed of each meeting of the conference so that it can send its own representative. The conference is responsible for the work planning of the Chamber of Deputies. This is done by setting the agenda and the meeting calendar (Articles 23 and 24 of the internal regulations).

    The plenary

    The plenary hall

    The plenum is made up of all members who meet in the plenary hall of Palazzo Montecitorio and orient their work according to the agenda and the meeting calendar. The government and its ministers also take part in the plenary meetings.

    The standing committees

    The Italian Chamber of Deputies has 14 standing committees. They deal with the following subject areas: constitutional affairs, justice, foreign affairs, defense, budget, finance, culture, environment, transport and communication, manufacturing, labor, social affairs, agriculture and finally the European Union.

    Special committees

    There are two special committees . One examines those draft laws that affect exchange rates. The other is a court of honor that examines the truthfulness of allegations that are made in the context of a parliamentary debate and through which the MP concerned sees his honor being violated.


    There are three commissions in the Chamber of Deputies: the committee for internal regulations advises on changes or the interpretation of the rules of procedure of the Chamber of Deputies, the committee for elections examines the legality of the elections to the Chamber of Deputies, also with regard to possible ineligibility and incompatibility of the individual members. The Commission for Authorizations may approve investigations by the law enforcement authorities against individual MPs, insofar as their immunity rights are affected.

    Legislative Committee

    The Legislative Committee is composed of ten MPs selected by the President of the Chamber of Deputies, five of which must belong to the majority alliance and five to the opposition. The chair rotates. The task of the Legislative Committee is to assess the quality of draft legislation by assessing its homogeneity, simplicity, clarity and formulation.

    The committee of inquiry

    It is possible to set up a committee of inquiry in the event of ambiguities of importance for the entire state. Often this takes the form of bicameral boards of inquiry; H. Committees in which both MPs and senators are represented.

    A committee of inquiry fulfills its tasks under Article 82 of the Italian Constitution with the same powers as a criminal judge, but cannot convict anyone. At the end of its work, the committee of inquiry submits a report to parliament, which can then take the appropriate legislative measures or remove members of the government who have not behaved correctly.

    One example is the “Committee of Inquiry into Organized Crime” (Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul fenomeno della criminalità organizzata) , which arose in the course of the fight against the Mafia.

    The mixed committees, bicameral committees, consist of both senators and members of parliament.


    Via del Parlamento with the north side of Palazzo Montecitorio , right Palazzo del Banco di Napoli , left Palazzo Theodoli-Bianchelli

    The Chamber of Deputies uses a number of other buildings in the vicinity of Palazzo Montecitorio .

    Immediately to the west, connected to Palazzo Montecitorio by a passage over the small Via della Missione , is a building complex that houses the administration of the Chamber of Deputies ( ). It also serves as a parliamentary group building and therefore has a larger meeting room. To the west of it, across the Via di Campo Marzio and south of the Vicolo Valdina , is the former Benedictine convent of Santa Maria in Campo Marzio ( ), which now houses representatives' offices.

    About 250 meters south of the Palazzo Montecitorio , in the Santa Maria sopra Minerva building complex on Via del Seminario ( ), are the archives of the Chamber of Deputies and the Parliamentary Library , which is one of the largest of its kind with around 2.1 million volumes. The Biblioteca Casanatense is also located in this building complex, but is independent and therefore not part of the Parliamentary Library . The joint committees of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate meet in the Palazzo di Via del Seminario . The standing committees of the Chamber of Deputies meet in the Palazzo Montecitorio .

    A few meters northeast of Palazzo Montecitorio are the two buildings Palazzo del Banco di Napoli and Palazzo Theodoli-Bianchelli on both sides of Via del Parlamento and Via del Corso ( ) , which house administrative departments and parliamentary offices.

    See also

    Web links

    Commons : Palazzo Montecitorio  - collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ History of the elections in Italy. In:
    2. Law of January 19, 1939 No. 129 on the establishment of the Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni . In:
    3. Brief description in the history portal of the Chamber of Deputies
    4. Description in the history portal of the Chamber of Deputies
    5. Description in the history portal
    6. Presentation in the history portal