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The Record Breaking Pay of Italy’s Politicians

Gianfranco Fini

After the recent defeats for the Berlusconi government in local elections, there is much talk of cuts in Italy. Tax rates are to be cut, maybe, and politicians salaries are to be cut too, possibly.

Nobody is sure how Italy with its record public spending deficit will manage to fund tax cuts, but recent figures published in the Saturday 25 June edition of Italian newspaper Il Corriere Della Sera suggest that Italy’s members of parliament could afford a pay cut. After all, their salaries with perks are more than three times the average pay level of politicians in Europe.

In Italy you hear of pay packets for normal people of less than €1000 a month – for those who have jobs. Nearly 30% of Italy’s under-25s do not.

How much are Italy’s politicians paid and how do their earnings weigh up compared to those of other European MPs?

Here are the figures.

What is not clear to me from the Corriere article is whether the €180,000 annual salary level applies only to Italy’s lower house, or to both the upper and lower houses – there are 315 senators in Italy’s upper house, and 630 bodies languish in Italy’s lower house of parliament.

Politicians Salaries

Gianfranco Fini
Nice Suit! On his salary, he can afford it.

(Lower house? – net annual pay – including benefits and expenses)

  • Italy: €180,000
  • Austria: €106,583
  • Germany: €84,108
  • United Kingdom: €81,600
  • France: €62,779
  • Spain: €35,051
  • EU average: €54,000

Source: Il Corriere della Sera

Italy’s politicians make €15,000 a month – which is more than quite a number of Italians take home in a year.

As mentioned previously, in Italy’s lower house, the Camera dei Deputati, there are 630 members. 30 members for each of Italy’s 21 regions.

Total cost of salaries in Italy’s Camera dei Deputati: €113,400,000

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As a matter of interest, plenty of Italy’s politicians have more than one job too. Take Berlusconi, for example, he makes millions from the company he no longer controls – Italian national television network Mediaset. Italy’s prime minister also receives a substantial cut from the rest of the businesses in the Berlusconi family business empire.

In 2009, Berlusconi’s tax declaration amounted to a whisker over €23,000,000.

Italy’s finance minister Giulio Tremonti was doing OK in 2008, with a tax declaration of over €4.5 million. However, Tremonti declared just under €40,000 in 2009. Why the fall? Not clear. Maybe he was personally bailing Italy out of the global financial crisis?

Potential Savings

Let’s cut Italy’s MPs pay to German salary levels, so we have 630 times €84,108, say €53,000,000. That would produce a saving of over 60 million Euros annually. This would equate to around 2.8 million Euros in extra funding for each of Italy’s regions. Not a huge amount, but in these times of crisis, every little helps.

If Italy cut MPs salaries to the EU average, well, that would add around 3.7 million to Italy’s regional coffers. And if parliamentary pay in Italy was cut to Spanish levels, well…

Then again, the €60 million could simply be €60 million less Italy’s taxpayers need to fork out.

These are just some of the cuts would could save Italy huge amounts of money. Others include reducing the vast number of official government chauffeur-driven or ‘blue’ cars, as they are known here, and taking a look at what appears to be extremely generous funding for parties. That’s political ones, not parties of the bunga bunga variety.

Will all these cuts happen?

Well, Berlusconi has been promising tax cuts for an eternity and they have not yet materialised, so who knows? But if they were to happen, Italy’s politicians may regain some credibility in the eyes of Italy’s population.

The Mayor of Haledon, Passaic County, New Jersey, Domenick Stampone who I ‘met’ on Twitter, does not think tax cuts are the best way to stimulate an economy, anyway. This is why: The Truth About the Economy in 2 Minutes. I wonder whether Italy’s finance minister Tremonti has seen the truth. Possibly not.

Actually, one of Tremonti’s colleagues commented that Italy’s finance ministers latest raft of manoeuvres designed to jump start Italy’s sick economy need to be examined by a psychiatrist. A warning sign perhaps?!

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