After analyzing the political and institutional problems of rebuilding Western European countries in the wake of the Second World War, the essay goes into the phenomenon of "broad coalitions" which typifies continental Europe in the early post-war phase. Sifting the various rationales underlying this governing formula, the author is chiefly concerned to assess how far it benefited economic recovery; Italy, he asserts, lacked the basic requisites for such a formula solving her looming economic and monetary crisis. What led to the failure of the broad Italian antifascist coalition in May 1947 was above all the presence of a "fourth party" - a metaphor standing for the strong "political" stance of non political, i.e. economic and financial, pressure groups. Other factors were the lack of any clear concrete economic platform among the left wing and the widespread popular feeling that the government was unable to control the monetary situation. Economic failure by the post-war coalition thus spelled the end of any such governing formula, and cleared the way to victory for the "fourth party" and the so-called Einaudi line.