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Telos' Blog

May, 2018

Bureaucrats and Politicians: an uneasy partnership at the helm of the modern state

This was the conclusion of the debate 'A question of state. Politics and high bureaucracy' organised by Telos A&S together with the De Gasperi Foundation, and held on 28 May in the Sala Igea of the Istituto Treccani in Rome. Guest of honour was Vito Cozzoli, Councillor and Head of Service of the Chamber of Deputies, who - together with Lorenzo Malagola, Secretary General of the Foundation and Marco Sonsini, Telos A&S partner - suffered a barrage of questions from Flavia Trupia - PerLaRE, Association for Rhetoric.

When we speak of high bureaucracy we think of one of the most coveted positions in the U.S. presidential staff: Chief of Staff. An old way of saying at the White House is "the staff does the politics", meaning that the President's choices in forming his own team, are political action in themselves. In France, bureaucracy is a strong, socially recognised administrative elite: it is called noblesse d'État - Mariella Palazzolo of Telos A&S told in her introduction. What about in Italy?

The terms for defining it are not flattering. Let us mention one for all: State mandarins. Yet, as the speakers have pointed out, even if the elite is made up of two categories of people, those sensitive to change and those oriented towards conservation, the ruling class of a country is its lifeblood. The administrative elite sides the governing politics and provides its technical expertise, basing on a clear and recognisable distinction of roles and responsibilities. Bassanini docet. One thing is certain: today, more than in the past, there is a great diffidence towards high bureaucracy. A negative perception that yesterday's debate has contributed to dispelling!


Bureaucrats and Politicians: an uneasy partnership at the helm of the modern state