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International Socialism, Autumn 1965


Barry Hindess

In Groups


From International Socialism, No.22, Autumn 1965, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Interest Groups in Italian Politics
Joseph LaPalombara
Princeton UP/Oxford, 68s

This study concentrates on the interrelation between Confundustria and Catholic Action – two of the most powerful groups in Italian politics – and the ruling Christian Democratic Party. There is, even so, a wealth of detail on other groups and the political scene in general.

Two types of relationship between pressure group and party or bureaucracy are distinguished. On the one hand is the Parentela between, in particular, Catholic Action and the Christian Democrats, and on the other the Clientela between Confundustria and government bureaucracy. The first of these is a generalised ‘old school tie’ based on a common ideological background. The corporatism of Catholic Action and aims of Confundustria are often in conflict and the Italian experience is used to show that Parentela may be stronger than Clientela. This particular Parentela has a great deal of support in terms of popular votes while the Clientela has very little. From this point of view we could argue that the Clientela is still very strong.

Using the results of his study LaPalombara challenges many of the generalisations made in Britain and America about the effects of interest group behaviour. We may, of course, question whether these generalisations hold in Britain and America either. Nevertheless the admission that interest-group theory does not always apply in countries called democratic is a step in the right direction.

There is much that a Marxist would disagree with in this book; others would criticise its style and lack of conclusion. However anyone interested in Italian politics or bourgeois political theory will find it worth reading.

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