Confindustria: Lobbies as an institution

Background information

logo_confindustriaConfindustria, the association of Italy’s employers, is a prototype of Italy’s complex and highly institutionalized lobbying system whose roots date back to the pre-WWII era and which includes retailers associations Confcommercio and Conferesercenti, artisans’ Confartigianato and CNA, farmers’ Coldiretti and Confagricoltura, banks’ Abi and insurer companies’ Ania among others. In post war Italy, when the state industrial system was equally large, if not bigger, than its privately owned counterpart, even the government controlled conglomerates such as IRI and ENI had their own lobby bodies, Intersind and Asap, which disappeared as the bulk of those industries was privatized in the Nineties. The main tasks of those associations are that of negotiating and signing with the Unions the so-called collective labor contracts, which by the way in Italy have force of law and are binding for all employers, be they or not members of an association, and that of representing their legitimate interests before the institutions: central and local government, Parliament, etc. Confindustria can be regarded as by far the most visible and recognized of those association, if maybe not the most powerful. In recent years big state concerns, such as Italy’s Post Office and Italy’s Railways, joined other government controlled corporations, the likes of Eni and Finmeccanica, already members of Confindustria, and shifted the balance of power inside the association as the voting rights mechanism is proportional to the contributions which in turn are proportional to the number of people employed. The Confindustria of nowadays is still influential but a bit less powerful than it was a couple of decades ago, when it acted in concert with the Unions and the government, then headed by former bank of Italy governor Ciampi, to lay down the basis for the future entering of Italy in the single currency. The boss of Confindustria is Giorgio Squinzi, who owns and chairs the Mapei chemical company and whose term expires in may 2016. The chairman of Confindustria has a status of a senior minister, at least, among icons of power as they are represented in the media.

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