There have been 61 governments in Italy since 1945. However, the dominance of the Christian Democratic party in Italian politics over this period provided continuity and comparative stability to the political situation in the country, as they attempted to maintain Cold War equilibrium in the region by keeping the Italian Communist Party (PCI) out of power. Apart from playing a part in the National Unity governments prior to 1948, the communists have never been in power.
The cliché that Italy had 50 governments in its first 50 years of democracy is often used as an example of political instability. However, Italy's main political problem was actually the opposite. Where the governments of other western countries alternated between left and right wing parties, Italy's government remained in the hands of the Christian Democrats and their allies throughout the whole of the period of the so called 'First Republic', since it was politically unacceptable for a communist party to rule a western country during the Cold war period.
During the 1960s, Aldo Moro, a relatively left-leaning Christian Democrat, unsuccessfully attempted to include the socialists in the government. He would later try to include the communist party as well in a deal called 'The Historical Compromise'. In 1978, this attempt was brought to an abrupt halt by the kidnapping and murder of Moro by the Red Brigades, an extremist left-wing terror organisation.
At this time, the Communist Party was the largest in western Europe, and it has remained so ever since. Their appeal to Italians has been mainly due to the Party's independence from Moscow, their rejection of extremism and their reasonable, practical approach to politics.