Keywords: Liberal Italy; Ministerial Resignation; Government Changes; Crown; Trasformismo.
The essay analyses all instances of prime ministerial resignations in liberal Italy (1861-1900) on the basis of two main notions: the constitutional requirement of a 'double confidence' and the interpretive category of the 'party of the majority'. The study highlights the various possible outcomes of the resignation of a government (replacing the prime minister, attempting to form a government under the incumbent prime minister, seeking a new confidence vote in Parliament, dissolving the Chamber of deputies) and the root causes of government resignation (e.g. conflicting views on how to accomplish national unity or on whether to use power politics or more cautious foreign policy approach). The study proposes a new division of this period into five political and institutional phases: 1) Government changes mostly originating outside Parliament, at the hand of the king (1861-1869); 2) Government changes mostly originating in Parliament under the growing influence of the Chamber of Deputies (1869-1876); 3) Attempts to build a two-party system (1876-1882); 4) The so-called "pseudo-coalition crisis" (1882-1887); 5) The polarising tendency of "trasformismo" and the key political role played by the Crown (1887-1900).