Italians are about to go to the polls to deliver their verdict on ﬁve years of centre-left government. Against expectations, the Ulivo coalition has held together more or less intact for a full parliamentary term. In itself that is no small achievement.
The alliance which won the 1996 general election was an eclectic mix: the formerly communist Democratic Left, various ex-Christian-Democrat groups, the Greens, a few former socialists, and a left fringe that continued to call itself communist. The coalition not only survived, but notched up one huge achievement. It completed the process of ﬁnancial and budgetary reform which helped Italy to qualify for ﬁrst-wave membership of Europe’s common currency at its launch in 1999.