The Westminster system is a parliamentary system of government developed in the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of the seat of the British Parliament; the system is a series of procedures for operating a legislature. It is used, or was once used, in the national and subnational legislatures of most former British Empire colonies upon gaining responsible government, beginning with the first of the Canadian provinces in 1848 and the six Australian colonies between 1855 and 1890. However, some former colonies have since adopted either the presidential system or a hybrid system as their form of government; the Westminster system of government is contrasted with the presidential system that originated in the United States, or with the semi-presidential system, based on the government of France. A Westminster system of government may include some of the following features: A sovereign or head of state who functions as the nominal or legal and constitutional holder of executive power, holds numerous reserve powers, but whose daily duties consist of performing ceremonial functions.
Examples include Queen Elizabeth II, the Governors-General in Commonwealth realms, or the presidents of many countries, state or provincial governors in federal systems. Exceptions to this are Ireland and Israel, whose presidents are de jure and de facto ceremonial, the latter possesses no reserve powers whatsoever. A head of government, known as the Prime Minister, Chief minister, First Minister or Chancellor. While the head of state appoints the head of government, constitutional convention suggests that a majority of elected Members of Parliament must support the person appointed. If more than half of elected parliamentarians belong to the same political party the parliamentary leader of that party is appointed. An exception to this was Israel, in which direct prime-ministerial elections were made in 1996, 1999 and 2001. An executive branch led by the head of government made up of members of the legislature with the senior members of the executive in a cabinet adhering to the principle of cabinet collective responsibility.
An independent, non-partisan civil service which advises on, implements, decisions of those ministers. Civil servants hold permanent appointments and can expect merit-based selection processes and continuity of employment when governments change. A parliamentary opposition with an official Leader of the Opposition. A legislature bicameral, with at least one elected house – although unicameral systems exist. Exceptions to this include New Zealand, which changed in 1993 to use mixed-member proportional representation. A lower house of parliament with an ability to dismiss a government by "withholding supply", passing a motion of no confidence, or defeating a confidence motion. A parliament which can be dissolved and snap elections called at any time. Parliamentary privilege, which allows the legislature to discuss any issue it deems relevant, without fear of consequences stemming from defamatory statements or records thereof. Minutes of meetings known as Hansard, including an ability for the legislature to strike discussion from these minutes.
The ability of courts to address silence or ambiguity in the parliament's statutory law through the development of common law. Another parallel system of legal principles exists known as equity. Exceptions to this include India, Quebec in Canada, Scotland in the UK amongst others which mix common law with other legal systems. Most of the procedures of the Westminster system originated with the conventions and precedents of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which form a part of what is known as the Constitution of the United Kingdom. Unlike the uncodified British constitution, most countries that use the Westminster system have codified the system, at least in part, in a written constitution. However, uncodified conventions and precedents continue to play a significant role in most countries, as many constitutions do not specify important elements of procedure: for example, some older constitutions using the Westminster system do not mention the existence of the cabinet or the prime minister, because these offices were taken for granted by the authors of these constitutions.
Sometimes these conventions, reserve powers, other influences collide in times of crisis and in such times the weaknesses of the unwritten aspects of the Westminster system, as well as the strengths of the Westminster system's flexibility, are put to the test. As an illustrative example, in the Australian constitutional crises of 1975 the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and replaced him with opposition leader Malcolm Fraser. Summary of the Typical Structure of The Westminster Model: Type: Bicameral Upper House Lower House Leadership of Parliament: Head of State: Monarch or Ceremonial President Head of Government: Prime Minister Premier/Chief Minister Other titles include, First Minister, Chief Exec
Joseph Gurney Cannon
Joseph Gurney Cannon was a United States politician from Illinois and leader of the Republican Party. Cannon served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1903 to 1911, many consider him to be the most dominant Speaker in United States history, with such control over the House that he could control debate. Cannon is the second-longest continuously serving Republican Speaker in history, having been surpassed by fellow Illinoisan Dennis Hastert, who passed him on June 1, 2006. Cannon is the second longest serving Republican Representative only surpassed by Alaska congressman Don Young, as well as first member of Congress, of either party to surpass 40 years of service. Cannon's congressional career spanned 46 years of cumulative service—a record, not broken until 1959, he is the longest serving member of the House of Representatives in Illinois, although the longest continuous service belongs to Adolph J. Sabath. Cannon has the distinction of being the subject of the first Time cover dated March 3, 1923.
Cannon was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, in 1840 moved with his parents to Annapolis, about 30 miles north of Terre Haute. He was the elder of Horace Franklin Cannon, a country doctor. Horace Cannon drowned on August 7, 1851 when Joseph was fifteen years old as he tried to reach a sick patient by crossing Sugar Creek. Young Cannon took charge of the family farm, his brother William would become a successful realtor. Asked by Terre Haute politician and lawyer John Palmer Usher, future Secretary of the Interior under President Abraham Lincoln, to testify in a slander case, Cannon became fascinated with the law, he asked Usher if he could study law under him and moved to Terre Haute. At age 19 he traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend a semester of law school at the University of Cincinnati law school. In 1858, he was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Terre Haute, Indiana but was disappointed when Usher refused to offer him a place in his office; that year he relocated to Illinois.
His choice of a new hometown was somewhat involuntary, taking place while he was travelling from Shelbyville, Illinois, to Chicago to find more clients for his law firm. During the trip, he ran out of money, he boarded a Chicago-bound train in Illinois. As Cannon did not have a ticket, he was removed from the train in Tuscola. There, he became State's attorney for the twenty-seventh judicial district of Illinois, holding the position from March 1861 to December 1868, he was one of the charter members of Tuscola's Masonic Lodge No. 332, founded on October 2, 1860. In 1876 Cannon moved to Danville, where he resided for the rest of his life, he and his wife Mary P. Reed, whom he married in 1862, had two daughters, he became a follower of Abraham Lincoln during the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. After Lincoln was elected President in 1860, Cannon received an appointment as a regional prosecutor. Cannon, a member of the Republican Party, was elected as to the United States House of Representatives from Illinois to the Forty-second and to the eight succeeding Congresses, was the chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Post Office Department and of the Committee on Appropriations.
Cannon was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1890 to the Fifty-second Congress, but was elected to the Fifty-third and to the nine succeeding Congresses that sat between 1893 and 1913. He attempted to gain the Speakership four times before succeeding, his antic speaking style, diminutive stature and pugnacious manner were his trademarks. The newspapers lampooned him as a colorful rube. "Uncle Joe", as he was known clashed with fellow Republican Theodore Roosevelt, asserting that Roosevelt "has no more use for the Constitution than a tomcat has for a marriage license". Cannon was chairman to the Committee on Appropriations, Committee on Rules, Speaker of the House of Representatives, he received fifty-eight votes for the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1908. Cannon wielded the office of Speaker with unprecedented power. At the time of Cannon's election, the Speaker of the House concurrently held the chair of the Rules Committee, which determined under what rules and restrictions bills could be debated and voted on, and, in some cases, whether they would be allowed on the floor at all.
As such, Cannon controlled every aspect of the House's agenda: bills reached the floor of the house only if Cannon approved of them, in whatever form he determined — with Cannon himself deciding whether and to what extent the measures could be debated and amended. Cannon reserved to himself the right to appoint not only the chairs of the various House committees, but all of the committees' members, used that power to appoint his allies and proteges to leadership positions while punishing those who opposed his legislation. Crucially, Cannon exercised these powers to maintain discipline within the ranks of his own party: the Republicans were divided into the conservative "Old Guard," led by Cannon, the progressives, led by President Theodore Roosevelt, his committee assignment privileges ensured that the party's Progressive element had little influence in the House, his control over the legislative process obstructed progressive legislatio
Speaker of the Senate of Canada
The Speaker of the Senate of Canada is the presiding officer of the Senate of Canada. The Speaker represents the Senate at official functions, rules on questions of parliamentary procedure and parliamentary privilege, presides over debates and voting in the senate; the current Speaker is George Furey who assumed office upon nomination by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on December 3, 2015, succeeding Leo Housakos. The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the Governor General of Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Monarch, on the Constitutional advice of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. By convention, this advice is expressed by the Prime Minister of Canada; the Speaker of the Senate of Canada takes precedence only after the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II, her Viceroy, the Governor General of Canada, other members of the Canadian Royal Family, former Governors General of Canada and their spouses, the Prime Minister of Canada, former Prime Ministers of Canada, the Chief Justice of Canada in the Canadian Order of Precedence—and, therefore, is qualified to represent Canada at official state functions, both in Canada and abroad.
The role of the Speaker in the Senate was based on that of the Lord Chancellor in the United Kingdom. In keeping with the role of the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the Senate was expected to be partisan; the Speaker of the Senate was similar to the Lord Chancellor in being considered equal to other Senators. Decisions of the chair were not binding on the Senate unless the Speaker's decision was the pleasure of a majority of Senators. Similar to the practice of the Lords was that the Speaker would not intervene unless another Senator brought the matter to the attention of the Speaker. Decisions from the chair remain subject to appeals from the Senate. Canada has more departed from the traditions of the House of Lords, notably since 1991, when new rules for the Senate were adopted; the new Standing Orders have made it clear that the Speaker of the Senate could intervene without being called to do so by the Senate. The new Guidelines move the Senate further from the model of the self-governing practices of the House of Lords, more toward the Chair-governed customs of the House of Commons.
The position was preceded by the Speaker of the Speaker of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada. The Speaker of the Senate is responsible for deciding on points of order, only once risen by another Senator. However, with the 1991 amendments to the Standing Orders and Guidelines that govern the Senate of Canada, the Speakership has begun to assert its right to intervene, where appropriate, without being prompted to do so. Therefore, the Speaker is, broadly speaking, responsible for the maintenance of order and decorum in the Senate; as a high-ranking individual on the order of precedence, the Speaker of the Senate receives heads of state and heads of government — this role is not ceremonial. They are expected to represent Canada internationally, sometimes visit other nations on behalf of the Government of Canada. While the Speaker is an officer of the Senate, the Speaker as Senator remains a representative of the Province from which he or she was appointed. Unlike the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, the Speaker of the Senate of Canada has the right to participate in debates on behalf of the citizens of their Province or Territory.
The Speaker has the right and power to cast an original vote, to preside over the voting process. Another significant difference between the two speakers is that the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada holds a management role within the administration of the House of Commons of Canada as Chair of the Board of Internal Economy; the Speaker of the Senate holds no similar role, as the Standing Committee on Internal Economy and Administration is chaired by another Senator. In the absence of the Speaker in the Red Chamber, his duties are carried by the Speaker pro tempore, a Senator appointed at the beginning of each session by the Senate. Should both chair officers be absent, any Senator can be called upon to take the chair. Irrespective of, in the chair, their decisions hold the same force as that of the Speaker of the Senate of Canada; the Speaker of the Senate performs the Senate Speaker's Parade to mark the opening of a sitting in the Senate with the help of the Black Rod. Key: Hays and Housakos are the only current living former Speakers of the Senate.
Several Speakers have died during their time in office: Josiah Burr Plumb 1888 Hewitt Bostock 1930 Georges Parent 1942 Pierre Claude Nolin 2015 Speakers of the Senate — Official site, maintained by the Government of Canada
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U. S. federal government, after the President of the United States, ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The Vice President is an officer in the legislative branch, as President of the Senate. In this capacity, the Vice President presides over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote; the Vice President presides over joint sessions of Congress. The Vice President is indirectly elected together with the President to a four-year term of office by the people of the United States through the Electoral College. Section 2 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, ratified in 1967, created a mechanism for intra-term vice presidential succession, establishing that vice presidential vacancies will be filled by the president and confirmed by both houses of Congress. Whenever a vice president had succeeded to the presidency or had died or resigned from office, the vice presidency remained vacant until the next presidential and vice presidential terms began.
The Vice President is a statutory member of the National Security Council, the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. The Office of the Vice President organises the vice president's official functions; the role of the vice presidency has changed since the office was created during the 1787 constitutional Convention. Over the past 100 years, the vice presidency has evolved into a position of domestic and foreign policy political power, is now seen as an integral part of a president's administration; as the Vice President's role within the executive branch has expanded, his role within the legislative branch has contracted. The Constitution does not expressly assign the vice presidency to any one branch, causing a dispute among scholars about which branch of government the office belongs to: 1) the executive branch; the modern view of the vice president as an officer of the executive branch is due in large part to the assignment of executive authority to the vice president by either the president or Congress.
Mike Pence of Indiana is the current Vice President of the United States. He assumed office on January 20, 2017. No mention of an office of vice president was made at the 1787 Constitutional Convention until near the end, when an 11-member committee on "Leftover Business" proposed a method of electing the chief executive. Delegates had considered the selection of the Senate's presiding officer, deciding that, "The Senate shall choose its own President," and had agreed that this official would be designated the executive's immediate successor, they had considered the mode of election of the executive but had not reached consensus. This all changed on September 4, when the committee recommended that the nation's chief executive be elected by an Electoral College, with each state having a number of presidential electors equal to the sum of that state's allocation of representatives and senators; the proposed presidential election process called for each state to choose members of the electoral college, who would use their discretion to select the candidates they individually viewed as best qualified.
Recognizing that loyalty to one's individual state outweighed loyalty to the new federation, the Constitution's framers assumed that individual electors would be inclined to choose a candidate from their own state over one from another. So they created the office of vice president and required that electors vote for two candidates, requiring that at least one of their votes must be for a candidate from outside the elector's state, believing that this second vote could be cast for a candidate of national character. Additionally, to guard against the possibility that some electors might strategically throw away their second vote in order to bolster their favorite son's chance of winning, it was specified that the first runner-up presidential candidate would become vice president. Creating this new office imposed a political cost on strategically discarded electoral votes, incentivizing electors to make their choices for president without resort to electoral gamesmanship and to cast their second ballot accordingly.
The resultant method of electing the president and vice president, spelled out in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, allocated to each state a number of electors equal to the combined total of its Senate and House of Representatives membership. Each elector was allowed to vote for two people for president, but could not differentiate between their first and second choice for the presidency; the person receiving the greatest number of votes would be president, while the individual who received the next largest number of votes became vice president. If there were a tie for first or for second place, or if no one won a majority of votes, the president and vice president would be selected by means of contingent elections protocols stated in the clause; the emergence of political parties and nationally coordinated election campaigns during the 1790s soon frustrated this original plan. In the election of 1796, Federalist John Adams won the presidency, but his bitter rival, Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson came second and became vice president.
Thus, the president and vice president were from opposing parties.
Senate of Canada
The Senate of Canada is the upper house of the Parliament of Canada, along with the House of Commons and the Monarch. The Senate is modelled after the British House of Lords and consists of 105 members appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. Seats are assigned on a regional basis: four regions—defined as Ontario, the Maritime provinces, the Western provinces—each receive 24 seats, with the remaining portions of the country—Newfoundland and Labrador receiving 6 seats and the three northern territories each assigned the remaining one seat. Senators may serve until they reach the age of 75. While the Senate is the upper house of Parliament and the House of Commons is the lower house, this does not imply the Senate is more powerful than the House of Commons, it entails that its members and officers outrank the members and officers of the Commons in the order of precedence for the purposes of protocol. As a matter of practice and custom, the Commons is the dominant chamber.
The prime minister and Cabinet are responsible to the House of Commons and remain in office only so long as they retain the confidence of the House of Commons. The approval of both chambers is necessary for legislation and, the Senate can reject bills passed by the Commons. Between 1867 and 1987, the Senate rejected fewer than two bills per year, but this has increased in more recent years. Although legislation can be introduced in either chamber, the majority of government bills originate in the House of Commons, with the Senate acting as the chamber of "sober second thought"; the Senate came into existence in 1867, when the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the British North America Act 1867, uniting the Province of Canada with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single federation, a dominion called Canada. The Canadian parliament was based on the Westminster model. Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, described it as a body of "sober second thought" that would curb the "democratic excesses" of the elected House of Commons and provide regional representation.
He believed that if the House of Commons properly represented the population, the upper chamber should represent the regions. It was not meant to be more than a brake on the House of Commons. Therefore, it was deliberately made an appointed house, since an elected Senate might prove too popular and too powerful and be able to block the will of the House of Commons; the original Senate chamber was lost to the fire that consumed the Parliament Buildings in 1916. Subsequently, the Senate sat in the mineral room of what is today the Canadian Museum of Nature until 1922, when it relocated to Parliament Hill. With the Centre Block undergoing renovations, temporary chambers have been constructed in the Senate of Canada Building, where the Senate began meeting in 2019. Reform of the Senate has been an issue since its creation, mirrors pre-Confederation debates regarding appointed Legislative Councils in the former colonies; the federal Parliament first considered reform measures in 1874 and the Senate debated reforming itself in 1909.
There were minor changes in 1965, when the mandatory retirement age for new Senators was set at 75 years and, in 1982, when the Senate was given a qualified veto over certain constitutional amendments. There have been at least 28 major proposals for constitutional Senate reform since the early 1970s and all have failed. Discussion of reforming the appointment mechanism resurfaced alongside the Quiet Revolution and the rise of Western alienation with the chief goal of making the Senate better represent the provinces in parliament, it was suggested that provincial governments should appoint senators, as was done in the United States before the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Others suggested that senators should be members of provincial legislatures, similar to the Bundesrat of Germany; the discussions suggested redistributing Senate seats to the growing western provinces Formal suggestions for equality of seats between provinces occurred in 1981. Schemes to create an elected Senate did not gain widespread support until after 1980, when Parliament enacted the National Energy Program in the wake of the energy crises of the 1970s.
Many Western Canadians called for a "Triple-E Senate", standing for elected and effective. They believed that allowing equal representation of the provinces, regardless of population, would protect the interests of the smaller provinces and outlying regions; the Meech Lake Accord, a series of constitutional amendments proposed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, would have required the federal government to choose a senator from a list of persons nominated by the provincial government. Before the failure of the Meech Lake accord, Alberta had passed the Senatorial Selection Act of 1987, which provided for the direct election of Alberta senators; the first of such elections was held in 1989. The results of these elections are non-binding, only prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper have appointed senators that had won these elections; the Charlottetown Accord, involved a provision under which the Senate would include an equal number of senators from each province, each elected either by the majority in the relevant provincial legislature or by the majority of voters in the province.
This accord was defeated in the referendum held in 1992. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was an advocate of
The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest ranking among those Great Officers of State which are appointed in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, appointed only for the day of coronations; the Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to the Union there were separate Lord Chancellors for England and Wales, for Scotland and for Ireland; the Lord Chancellor is a member of the Cabinet and, by law, is responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts. In 2007, there were a number of changes to the legal system and to the office of the Lord Chancellor; the Lord Chancellor was the presiding officer of the House of Lords, the head of the judiciary in England and Wales and the presiding judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, but the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 transferred these roles to the Lord Speaker, the Lord Chief Justice and the Chancellor of the High Court respectively.
The current Lord Chancellor is David Gauke, Secretary of State for Justice. One of the Lord Chancellor's responsibilities is to act as the custodian of the Great Seal of the Realm, kept in the Lord Chancellor's Purse. A Lord Keeper of the Great Seal may be appointed instead of a Lord Chancellor; the two offices entail the same duties. Furthermore, the office of Lord Chancellor may be exercised by a committee of individuals known as Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal when there is a delay between an outgoing Chancellor and their replacement; the seal is said to be "in commission". Since the 19th century, only Lord Chancellors have been appointed, the other offices having fallen into disuse; the office of Lord Chancellor of England may trace its origins to the Carolingian monarchy, in which a Chancellor acted as the keeper of the royal seal. In England, the office dates at least as far back as the Norman Conquest, earlier; some give the first Chancellor of England as Angmendus, in 605. Other sources suggest that the first to appoint a Chancellor was Edward the Confessor, said to have adopted the practice of sealing documents instead of signing them.
A clerk of Edward's, was named "chancellor" in some documents from Edward's reign. In any event, the office has been continuously occupied since the Norman Conquest; the staff of the growing office became separate from the king's household under Henry III and in the 14th century located in Chancery Lane. The chancellor headed chancery; the Lord Chancellor was always a churchman, as during the Middle Ages the clergy were amongst the few literate men of the realm. The Lord Chancellor performed multiple functions—he was the Keeper of the Great Seal, the chief royal chaplain, adviser in both spiritual and temporal matters. Thus, the position emerged as one of the most important ones in government, he was only outranked in government by the Justiciar. As one of the King's ministers, the Lord Chancellor attended Royal Court. If a bishop, the Lord Chancellor received a writ of summons; the curia regis would evolve into Parliament, the Lord Chancellor becoming the prolocutor of its upper house, the House of Lords.
As was confirmed by a statute passed during the reign of Henry VIII, a Lord Chancellor could preside over the House of Lords if not a Lord himself. The Lord Chancellor's judicial duties evolved through his role in the curia regis. Petitions for justice were addressed to the King and the curia, but in 1280, Edward I instructed his justices to examine and deal with petitions themselves as the Court of King's Bench. Important petitions were to be sent to the Lord Chancellor for his decision. By the reign of Edward III, this chancellery function developed into a separate tribunal for the Lord Chancellor. In this body, which became known as the High Court of Chancery, the Lord Chancellor would determine cases according to fairness instead of according to the strict principles of common law; the Lord Chancellor became known as the "Keeper of the King's Conscience." Churchmen continued to dominate the Chancellorship until the 16th century. In 1529, after Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of York, was dismissed for failing to procure the annulment of Henry VIII's first marriage, laymen tended to be more favoured for appointment to the office.
Ecclesiastics made a brief return during the reign of Mary I, but thereafter all Lord Chancellors have been laymen. Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury was the last Lord Chancellor, not a lawyer, until the appointment of Chris Grayling in 2012; the three subsequent holders of the position, Michael Gove, Elizabeth Truss and David Lidington are not lawyers. However, the appointment of David Gauke in January 2018 meant that once again the Lord Chancellor was a lawyer; when the office was held by ecclesiastics, a "Keeper of the Great Seal" acted in the Lord Chancellor's absence. Keepers were appointed when the office of Lord Chancellor fell vacant, discharged the duties of the office until an appropriate replacement could be found; when Elizabeth I became queen, Parliament passed an Act providing that a Lord Keeper of the Great Seal would be entitled to "like place, pre-eminence, juri
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection