The Great Ignorance, Rizzoli 2019

The rise of incompetence and the growing wave of anti-intellectualism are increasingly affecting politics in many democracies. The widespread need of political change and the rejection of the “elites” has helped removing many old politicians from the scene, but who replaced the “old-style” politicians? Did such change improve the quality of policy making and of citizens’ trust in politics and institutions?

The book analyzes this phenomenon through the lens of Italy, thanks to a database that collects information about all the MPs and all the members of Italian Governments since 1948 (about 6000 politicians). Such unique source of information allows an in-depth analysis of the relationship between competence and political careers over a 70 years span. What emerges is a constant – and worrying – decline in politicians’ competence, and a decreasing effect of education and competence in political careers. The book also describes the effects of such phenomenon on policy making and on the quality of public debate, looking at the multiple causes (including the effects of social media) and elaborating on possible solutions.

Italy is a particular case, as it is the first one in Europe that saw the emergence of a Government entirely supported by a sovranist, anti-system, anti-elite coalition. This makes the book all the more interesting for countries that are about to face similar challenges.


To read reviews and watch video-presentations (in italian) about the book, go to this page.