The Italian Almanac

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Italian Parliament

The Caste

Italian industrialists' association Confindustria stepped up its criticism of the country's politicians, noting that Italian MPs are paid almost twice as much as colleagues in France and Germany. In 2005 the average cost to the state of an Italian MP was 1.53 million euros, said Confindustria Deputy Chairman Andrea Pininfarina in his organisation's latest attack on the "costs of politics". As well as being almost double the cost of French and German MPs, the figure was six times what Spanish parliamentarians earned, he added.

"This issue must be dealt with urgently," Pinifarina said. "The excessive costs of politics have serious repercussions on the nation, both in economic terms and in terms of the legitimacy of our institutions in the eyes of the public". The 630 deputies in Italy's lower house cost the Italian taxpayer just under 22,000 euros a month each. They receive a monthly gross wage of almost 12,000 euros plus an expense account of 4,000 euros, an automatic reimbursement of almost 4,200 euros for electoral duties and a travel reimbursement of 1,600 euros. Senators, of which there are 315, earn roughly the same amount.

Democratic Left leader Piero Fassino wrote to the speakers of both parliamentary chambers, asking that the automatic salary rises built into MPs' salary system be blocked. Fassino's call came a day after a newspaper poll confirmed a groundswell of support for Beppe Grillo, a crusading comic who has made headlines recently with his fierce attacks on politicians of all stripes. Grillo's campaign struck a chord with many Italians and came at a time of growing public dissatisfaction with politicians, slammed by many critics as pampered, overpaid and out of touch with reality.

The political class has been dubbed The Caste following the success of a book of the same name which exposed the inflated cost of politics and MPs's perks and privileges.