Ministers in Italy: Notables, party men, technocrats and media men

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Series Details Vol.7, No.2, Autumn 2002, p117-152
Publication Date September 2002
ISSN 1360-8746
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Article abstract:

The article explores the long-term transformations of social and political profiles of ministerial elites, in a country where the process of democratisation started in the second half of the nineteenth century and was interrupted for more than 20 years by the Fascist regime (1924-43). After presenting a brief assessment of the role and composition of the Italian cabinets along the distinct phases of democratic life, the article gives attention to some specific indicators concerning the social origins and the political background of the ministerial elite. The main evolutional feature shown by the data is the transition from the predominance of a 'notable' type of minister (before Fascism) to the absolute prevalence of party professionals. The consolidation of the new pattern was achieved thanks to the long period of democratic and party stability which followed the Second World War, and was characterised by strong unwritten rules of ministerial recruitment and circulation. These included a long party career, an almost compulsory 'parliamentary' path to ministerial offices, a fairly proportional allocation of positions according to regional origins and the limited importance of technocratic competencies. The final section focuses on the changes that occurred within the Italian ministerial elite during the last decade: here the weakening of the party-professional pattern of recruitment, the greater role of technocratic careers and a more pronounced variability in the social and political backgrounds are in evidence.

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