Italy opts for state of academics

February 3, 1995

Half of the new Italian government - ten ministers out of 20 - are full-time or part-time university teachers.

Not surprisingly, the new administration was immediately called il governo dei professori.

Once more in a moment of particular political crisis, Italy has turned to academics to form a government.

The 54th government of postwar Italy is a government without a single politician.

The prime minister, Lamberto Dini, is an economist who was acting as treasury minister in the previous scandal-rocked government led by media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.

Dino, after a career at the IMF and the Bank of Italy was and is, temporarily on loan to the political profession.

Apart from the ten professori, six of whom come from Rome's La Sapienza University, the others are economists, judges, businessmen and a retired general.

The recourse to non-politicians was the only reasonable way out of a deadlock in which the right-wing alliance led by Berlusconi had lost its majority in parliament, while the fragmented left was unable to put one together.

It is not the first time that ministers have been recruited "en masse" from the universities, but the first time they have counted for half the government.

In another special government, that lead by former Bank of Italy governor Cario Azeglio Ciampi between mid-1993 and early last year, about a third were professori.

Italy's new minister for universities and scientific research is Giorgio Salvini, a nuclear physicist and head of the department of physics at La Sapienza.

He is internationally well known in his field and succeeds Stefano Podesta, professor of corporate economics at Milan's Bocconi Univerity.

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