Italy is the world's sixth economic power, lies in a key geopolitical position, and was a founding member of NATO and the European Community. Yet of all the major European states Italy is the least understood and studied. This book provides the only up-to-date survey of the Italian political scene during the forty years since World War II. It describes the inner-dynamics of the political parties, the day-to-day functioning of the governing institutions, and the interaction of the country's economic, social, and political life. It shows how a political system, riven with difficulties and seemingly in a continual crisis, survives and prospers - in some ways more successfully than its purportedly better-governed neighbours. Based on the authors' first-hand observations of Italian politics, the book offers a valuable insight into a subtle and complex, but fascinating political world.