Attention all European readers: Can you please describe the big-picture processes by which Berlusconi, Papandreou, and Zapatero were replaced? In particular, I want to know if there was a regularly scheduled election, or if there was a challenge to their party (which could happen at any time) and then their replacements weren’t elected.
For example, the Wikipedia article on the new Italian Prime Minister says:
On 9 November 2011, Monti was appointed a Lifetime Senator by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. Mario Monti was seen as a favourite to replace Silvio Berlusconi to lead a new unity government in Italy in order to implement reforms and austerity measures. On 12 November 2011, following Berlusconi’s resignation, Napolitano invited Monti to form a new government. Monti accepted the offer, and held talks with the leaders of Italy’s political parties, saying that he wanted to form a government that would remain in office until the next scheduled elections in 2013. On 16 November 2011, Monti unveiled a technocratic cabinet, and was officially sworn in as Prime Minister of Italy. He also appointed himself as Minister of Economy and Finance.
So am I right to conclude that the Italian people never voted Monti into office?
Please explain how all this works. In the United States the elites pick our leaders too, but they at least put on a show where we vote for them at regular intervals. This European system is foreign to me. (We also would have accepted, “…is Greek to me.”)