Italian Corruption
Someone is taking a bribe

A few weeks ago, the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano published a list with the names of all Italian politicians, who are elected in the Parliament or Senate, and at the same time have a criminal record. The number is chilling: 80.

According to a Transparency International statistic of 2014, Italy was not only one of the most corrupted countries in Europe, but also had the same level of corruption as Senegal and Swaziland. In the same year, after the (non-)election of Matteo Renzi, 'the Demolish Man', as he used to call himself, the expectation of a real fight against corruption and influence peddling were high.

The disappointment, however, was higher. When his party, the Democratic Party (PD), was elected as majority party led by Pierluigi Bersani in the election of 2013, the number of people who had a criminal record, in Italian they are called impresentabili, literally unpresentable, was “only” 7. Now, after more than a year of the Demolish Man government, the number went up to 23. To this number 4 more people should be added: those who are exponents of other parties in the left coalition. It makes a total amount of 27 people with a criminal record in the left parties alone.

The most common prosecutions are embezzlement, fraudulent bankruptcy, fiscal fraud and fraud. One of these 27, Francantonio Genovese, charged of criminal conspiracy and fraud, was even in prison and now is detained at house arrest.

Still, the first place is maintained by the right coalition with 53 impresentabili, even though some of the most known exponents are not in the Parliament anymore, such as Berlusconi (he could not have been re-elected or occupied any high government offices because of his condemn for fiscal fraud).

In the right coalition, the most common crimes are corruption, graft, embezzlement, fraudulent bankruptcy, fiscal fraud and fraud against the sanitary and the university system. The man with the most criminal records is Denis Verdini, who was put on trial 5 times. Among others, he was prosecuted for corruption, bankruptcy, fraud and for his involvement in the secret association called P3, which tried to influence the decision of some organs of the Italian State.

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One of the latest Italian scandals, fresh news of these sunny days, is the Antonio Azzolini case. Exponent of the right coalition, he was sentenced to jail, because of the fraud of 170 millions of euro against the harbor of Molfetta. Several nuns, who were affected by the fraud, tried to argue with some of Azzolini’s positions. The senator, in turn,­­­­ shouted against the sisters: “From now on I take all the decisions, otherwise I piss in your mouth!”. Despite the guilt verdict of the Italian Court, Azzolini was protected by his colleagues, both from the right and the left coalition, who voted for his request to protect his parliamentary immunity.

How do Italians feel and how do they react to all these scandals and corruption? Are they not indignant or offended by the behavior of their politician? Why should we resign ourselves to consider the low quality of democracy as a normal and marginal fact?

An entire book will never completely answer these questions. Or maybe the answer is simple: Because the political class of a country reflects nothing other than the country itself.