Problems of Private Business in italy


The final problem that the CD poses for private business is that CD politicians have a symbiotic relationship with nationalised industries. In general, the public sector corporations experienced increasing politicisation from the 1950s until the early 1980s. Managers in IRI, ENI or EFIM were expected to provide more jobs for CD politicians to dispense as patronage. The widespread acceptance that nationalized industries had social obligations stretching beyond making a profit paved the way for CD politicians to use their investment programmes to reward areas that voted CD. It is not even just that the CD as a whole uses the nationalised industries to build support. The CD is a highly fragmented party that consisted by the late 1980s of five significant factions, the left wing Sinistra, the Andreottiani (after their leader, Andreotti), the Grande Centro, Forze Nuove and the Fanfaniani (led by Amintore Fanfani). Patronage supports the factions, even though some hope that their influence will soon fade. The patronage is supplied through nationalised industries. In return, the government meets or approves the requirements-of the industries, such as issuing government-backed bonds.

Relations between private business and the CD have therefore been unstable. For most of the postwar period business has supported the CD. Indeed, business has been the CD’s largest source of funds. But the largest of the business organisations, Confindustria, was never really integrated into the community or kinship of the CD, and thus never achieved what Lapalombara terms a parantela relationship. In 1953, the leaders of Confindustria cut off funds to the CD because the party did not nominate a sufficient number of candidates supported by business.6 Some leading industrialists argued that business should support a more purely pro-business party such as the Liberals. A political action organisation, Confintesa, was formed to support candidates and parties supported by Confindustria. However, after what was regarded as an inept performance by Confintesa, the strategy was quietly dropped. In the mid to late 1970s, Confindustria’s leadership was taken over by Agnelli, the head of Fiat. As part of a general shakeup of the organisation, Agnelli favoured a distancing of Confindustria from the CD. Agnelli himself favoured an alliance with the Radicals, and political strategy based on bringing into policy making and government the widest possible range of groups and parties. This strategy conflicted with the CD’s futile attempts during the 1970s to maintain its hegemony over Italian politics, dominating government and providing the Prime Minster for every coalition government.’ In particular, Agnelli’s strategy implied an opening not only to the Socialists but, informally, to the Communists as well. In the 1980s, conservatives in the Confindustria reoriented the Party’s strategy back to its traditional path of alliance with the CD. Thus the relationship between private business and the CD has been unstable and varied.






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