Political instability, unemployment, demography: what you need to know about Italy before the elections

On the eve of the legislative elections, a close-up on Italy. A country marked by:
– government instability
– an aging population
– a contrasting economy
– the painful memory of Covid-19

Government instability

Italy, known for its political instability, has experienced 67 governments By 29 different personalities since the proclamation of the Republic in June 1946, the first headed the government of Alcide de Gasperi II, the last that of Mario Draghi.

  • Silvio Berlusconi was head of government in the greatest longevity with 3,291 days in power (in four different governments from 1994 to 2011).
  • The shortest executive was that of Fernando Tambroni, 115 days in 1960
  • The average longevity over the post-war period is nearly 400 days.
  • Alcide De Gasperi retains the record in terms of governments led, eight between 1945 and 1953.

An aging population

Nicknamed the “Japan of Europe”, Italy is the oldest country in the EU with a median age of 47.6 yearsaccording to Eurostat.

With a declining birth rate (1.25 children per woman in 2021) combined with rising life expectancy (82.4 years), the possibility could see its population drop from 60 to 47.6 million in 2070, a loss of 20 %.

The country must also face a cerebral hemorrhage and young people leaving to work abroad. According to Istat, these demographic changes have “consequences on the labor market and on future economic programming“and put at risk”the current level of well-being” of the country, namely the financing of its pension system and its health coverage.

An industrial giant with feet of clay

Third economy and second industrial power in the euro zone, Italy is, according to the OECD, the only European country where wages fell between 1990 and 2020 (-2.9%), in particular because of the weakness of the growth and productivity.

the unemployment rate in Italy, 7.9%, remains significantly higher than that of the euro zone, which stood at 6.6% in July.

the female employment rate there is only 55.4%, against 69% on average in the euro zone (74.6 in Germany and 70% in France). The country still suffers from the gap between the north, rich in a fabric of successful SMEs, and the south, poor and shunned by its youth.

Another concern, Italy is crumbling under a debt colossal sum of more than 2,700 billion euros, or some 150% of GDP, the highest ratio in the euro zone behind Greece.

The impact of Covid-19

Italy has been one of the European countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 epidemic. To date, it is estimated that there have been 22,241,369 infections in Italy (out of a population of 60 million). Above all, the country recorded 176,775 deaths since the outbreak of the epidemic in the winter of 2020. The Italian peninsula is the hardest hit European country (in terms of deaths), behind the United Kingdom (207,375 deaths).

Italy will also have been the first European country to confine itself, in an attempt to contain the progression of the virus. Entire villages quarantined, processions of coffins in military trucks… These images have lastingly marked the minds of Italians.

This health crisis had a restrained impact on the economy: the country recorded a collapse of nearly 9% in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020. The closure of borders caused a plunge in tourist activity, one of the economic pillars of the country. Moreover, the pandemic has exposed the shortcomings in Italian public services.


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