According to a strong and lasting prejudice, which has recently been expressed with renewed vigour, the optimum form of democracy is bipolar. The bipolar pattern, however, is not the only one possible. If the relevant conditions are in place, other patterns are possible, such as the formation of government majorities through a convergence of ‘centrist’ and intermediate parties. This pattern is not free from problems, and one of the main issues of debate in the Italian case, with its long tradition of centrist governments, is over the apparent poor functionality of the party system. The functioning of a party system, however, depends on its circumstances, and a centrist party system can function just as well as its bipolar counterpart. Indeed, it is questionable whether Italy has gained from its new bipolar structure and whether the new structure will endure.