Yesterday morning as I was brushing my teeth, I heard a story on NPR about a new book that’s a huge hit in Italy, about the “corruption and excess in Italian politics.” It seems this book, called “La Casta,” or “the caste,” has sold almost 1 million copies in one month by shedding light on the long tradition of Italian politicians getting exactly what they want – at the expense, often, of the Italian people.
Among the things brought to light in this book is the fact that “the president’s headquarters costs four time as much as Buckingham Palace” and that “Italian members of parliament are paid three times as much as their French counterparts.” One would expect there to be perks that come with being in a position of power, but “individual tennis coaching” for free? I mean, I can see the bullet-proof limos (especially after this book was published), but free tennis lessons? Is that really necessary for the job?
Now, I have to admit that stories like this make me chuckle a bit, with an “only in Italy” kind of attitude. If I were an Italian, I’d be outraged – and it seems that many are. In a country where they are quite used to corruption scandals in government (and elsewhere) and where, according to the NPR story, there is no word for “accountability,” it is notable that “La Casta” has created such a storm. I’m skeptical that it will have any long-term effect, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be an Italian politician right now.
More revelations in the book:
- Italian Parliament building is most expensive in Europe, 10 times greater than Spain’s
- Politicians are entitled to a “comfortable pension” when they turn 60 after having only served 30 months in office
- Unmarried couples in Italy have no legal rights, but unmarried Italian MPs can get health benefits for their partners
- 16 of the 630 MPs currently serving in the Italian Parliament are convicted felons
You can listen to the whole story via a link on this page.
Photo by: Dont´comment the same photo