The Italian Christian Democratic Party (DC), in power for nearly half a century, is in the midst of a deep political and electoral crisis. As the embodiment of the current political system, the party bears a major share of the responsibility for Italy's serious political and economic problems. Despite the enormous social, economic, and cultural change post-war Italy has seen, the DC has been first in every post-war election. Furthermore, through 47 years and 50 governments since December 1945, the Christian Democrats have been part of every government. In the democratic world, only the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party even approaches this record. The Christian Democrats have held the prime ministership for 42 of those 47 years, including every government up to 1981 and all four governments between the 1987 and 1992 elections. At the same time that the DC has been the permanent and leading government party, neither Italy's political institutions nor the Christian Democratic Party itself have undergone serious reform despite ever-increasing pressure from Italian society and the Catholic world.