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The Crippling Cost of Politics to Italy

Italian business association Confcommercio recently carried out some research into just how much Italy’s politicians cost Italians.  The answer is that Italy’s politicians cost around €152 per capita or €352 per family unit. To put that figure in perspective, the cost of politicians in the United Kingdom is a mere €9 per person.

According to Confcommercio, there are 154,000 national and local politicians in Italy.  A veritable army of the blighters, by the sounds of things!   This army of Italian politicians costs Italy about as much to run as a real army at some 9 billion Euros a year.  And Italy’s honourable members of parliament are some of the best paid in Europe.  No mention of return on investment was made, unsurprisingly.  As a matter of interest the Italian army is 108,000 strong.

How can these stratospheric sounding costs be put into perspective?  Now that is a good question, and it just happens to be one which Reuters Italy’s Chief Financial Correspondent Lisa Jucca put to me via Twitter. Time for some darting around the web, I thought to myself, rising to Reuters’ challenge.

Here’s what I came up with:

The United Kingdom had around 30,000 elected politicians and civil servants in 2009.  They cost the country £500 million (€584 million) a year, according to an article from July 2009 on the Express.co.uk.

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The population of Britain was 61,802,000 in 2009.

A quick calculation results in cost per capita for 2009 of £8 (just over 9 Euros at current exchange rates).  Inflation in the UK in 2010 was 3.286%, which would bring per capita cost of politics in Britain to €9.29 today.

Assuming the UK and Italian figures are genuinely comparable, the cost of politics to Italy at €152 per head compared to the United Kingdom’s €9 appears to be exorbitantly high.

As a matter of interest, the UK’s Royal Family costs Britons 65 pence per person.

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