Italy has made some progress over the last decade, but its performance on e-government and transparency is still below its potential. Too close ties remain between interest groups and key actors supposed to be autonomous, such as the judiciary or the media. While regulatory quality has improved somewhat, and the administrative burden decreased, political parties continue to be too involved in the appointments of public officials and the handling of great public contracts. The organized crime, contained in the South, has spread its influence in the rest of the country through apparently legitimate businesses who compete for municipal services. The high human development of Italy does not translate into sufficient e-citizenry action at community and sector level to control corruption.
Selected trends from the Public Integrity Index
Trends in Judicial Independence, Administrative Burden, Freedom of the Press over the past 13 years
The context diagnosis argues that corruption in Italy is still the norm rather than the exception, despite small improvements in anti-corruption practices in the past decade. Subjective and objective suggest mixed results with respect to the trends of corruption in the country. Looking closer at specific contexts, Italy continues not to fully address potential avenues for corruption in relation to the media, the judiciary, the process of public procurement, public undertakings and businesses. These issues discount the progress achieved in the past decade with respect to the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Agency, the expansion of the Freedom of Information Act and the publication of open data.
Strikingly, only 14% of Italians trust the Judiciary to handle corruption cases, 6 percentages points less than in 2013. This appears logical considering the Judicial Independence score that Italy gets in the IPI: only a modest 5.74, well below the regional average of 6.83. A possible explanation might be related to the current legal framework regulating the office of magistrates. As the 2016 GRECO evaluation report clearly points out: “There are no provisions limiting the right for magistrates to be employed in certain posts/positions or engage in other remunerated or unremunerated activities after performing judicial functions; magistrates may perform different functions than those within the judiciary and be temporarily out of the judiciary role.”1 Indeed, magistrates can participate in national elections if they take a special leave and if they do not compete in the territory where they exert juridical functions. Finally, and strikingly, no need for special leave is required for magistrates willing to perform political activities as mayor, president of regional or provincial councils or council members, while exerting judicial functions. Thus, magistrates can simultaneously perform political and judicial activities at the local level, with the only limit of the ineligibility in the territory where they exert juridical functions. The 2016 GRECO evaluation report clearly shows its concerns as “the issue of direct participation of magistrates in political life is particularly sensitive, due to the inevitable risk of politicisation, both real and perceived, among the judiciary” and recommends for clear division of powers to be legislated. Although a draft for a new law on this matter was initiated, the GRECO 2018 compliance report underlines that it never reached the implementation phase, due to several examinations referrals that still go on nowadays (Camera dei Deputati webpage).