Ministry (Italy)

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A ministry ( Italian Ministero ) is a supreme authority within the executive branch of the Italian Republic . Within the framework of the general political guidelines of the Italian Prime Minister , each minister heads his department under his own responsibility. Italian ministries are generally divided into a central and a peripheral organization. As a rule, their business area also includes administratively independent specialist authorities and other organizations or committees.

Historical development

Since the unification of Italy came from the House of Savoy and its Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and Sardinia-Piedmont incorporated the old Italian states in 1861, the Piedmontese ministries in Turin extended their territorial jurisdiction to the new Kingdom of Italy and thus became Italian. In the course of moving the capital of Italy, they came to Florence in 1865 and finally to Rome in 1871 . Neither the unification of Italy under the Savoy nor the proclamation of the republic in 1946 led to a historical break. For this reason, a number of Italian ministries, but also some other institutions of the modern Italian nation-state, can look back on a history that is in part much older than the state itself.

Up until the revolution of 1848 and the imposed constitution of Karl Albert ( Statuto Albertino ), the Piedmontese ministries were still called State Secretariats, which had emerged from the State Secretariat, which existed until 1717, and other government organs of the Dukes of Savoy. In the first half of the 19th century these small organizations were shaped by Napoleon in their structure . The reforms that the last Piedmontese and first Italian prime minister, Camillo Benso von Cavour, introduced in the ministerial administration in 1853 continued to shape them until the turn of the second millennium. In the area of ​​the central organization, they were uniformly divided into "General Directorates" (departments), "Divisions" (units) and "Sections" (subject areas); the peripheral organization, with the branch offices of the ministries, was oriented towards the provincial level . With the reforms of the 1880s, civil servant careers were reorganized and linked to various school-leaving qualifications. At the turn of the century, social policy and the nationalization or expansion of various service organizations ( railways , post offices ) led to a strong expansion of the formerly small ministerial administration. At the same time, the proportion of employees from southern Italy increased sharply. Because of the rapid change of government, the highest ministerial officials soon fell into an inappropriate position of power, but they also guaranteed a certain continuity in the implementation of ministerial tasks.

After the First World War, under fascism , attempts were initially made to rationalize the sprawling ministerial administrations, to merge various ministries and to privatize some public services or to outsource them to corporations of various types. On the other hand, in 1928 the careers of the ministerial officials were reorganized along the lines of the military, and the civil service was gradually geared towards the goals of the fascist dictatorship. From 1938 ministerial officials had to be members of the fascist party and wear uniform. Even after Mussolini was deposed and the monarchy abolished, fascist indoctrination persisted in Italian ministries for a long time.

A reform of the Italian ministerial bureaucracy that began in 1950 largely failed due to internal resistance. The rationalization measures did little to change the uniform, centralized and hierarchically oriented ministerial organization. The reorganization of the careers in the civil central ministerial administration in 1957 was significant. The following is a list of the former Italian official titles and their German equivalents:

The Palazzo delle Finanze in Rome, seat of the Ministry of Finance
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
Italian official title German official title
Carriera direttiva Higher service
Direttore generale Ministerial Director
Ispettore generale Ministerial Director
Direttore di divisione Ministerialrat / Ltr. Government Director
Direttore di sezione Government director
Consigliere di I class Upper Government Council
Consigliere di II class Government Council
Consigliere di III class Government Council
Carriera di concetto Higher service
Segretario capo Government councilor
Segretario principale Government official
Primo segretario Chief Government Inspector
Segretario Chief Government Inspector
Segretario aggiunto Government inspector
Vice segretario Government inspector
Carriera esecutiva Medium Grade
Archivista capo Government Chief Secretary
Primo archivista Government Secretary
Archivista Government secretary
Applicato Assistant (A5)
Applicato aggiunto Assistant (A5)
Carriera ausiliaria Simple service
Commesso capo Magistrate
Commesso Magistrate
Usciere capo Full-time assistant
Usciere Senior clerk
Inserviente Clerk

The long-sought break out of this rigid career system was successful from 1980, when one switched to employment relationships of a private law nature and classified all employees up to the equivalent of a government director in eight uniform function and remuneration groups. The ministries later introduced their own tariff systems. There are non-tariff individual contracts for senior management personnel ( dirigente generale, dirigente superiore, primo dirigente ). Exceptions still apply today in the military , the foreign service, the police , the judiciary and in the prefectural career .

The traditional organizational structure of the ministries, which had existed since Cavour's times, was initially broken up by the regionalization of Italy . A number of competencies were transferred to the new regional parliaments and governments, whose ministries were called "assessors". The Napoleonic-style provinces increasingly lost their importance as state administrative districts, which is why the ministries soon relocated some of their branch offices at regional level. In the central area, there were also first variations in the classic subdivision into "General Directorates" (departments), "Divisions" (units) and "Sections" (subject areas). The office of the general secretary , who as head of a ministerial administration (" head of office ") still stood above the general directors (ministerial directors) and as such existed only in the foreign and defense ministries, was also introduced in other ministries. In the Ministry of the Interior, several departments were combined into one main department for the first time, which was named Dipartimento della Pubblica Sicurezza or “Main Department for Public Security”. This form of organization was also later adopted by other Italian ministries. In a certain way, it corresponds to the management of several departments by a permanent state secretary in German federal ministries, with Italian chief department heads or general secretaries standing hierarchically between the German ministerial director and the state secretary. State secretaries in Italy are exclusively politicians and belong to the political management level of a ministry, which is clearly separated from the administrative apparatus and can only give it objectives. In the subordinate areas, some ministries also added a subdivision level ( reparto ) between the departments and units . In the further course of the organization and the corresponding terminology, with the exception of the Dipartimento and the Direzione Generale, only a few similarities remained.

In the early 1990s, a serious financial crisis forced the Amato and Ciampi governments to take drastic measures to rationalize the ministerial bureaucracy. The ministers Sabino Cassese and later Franco Bassanini pushed through more decentralization and closeness to the citizen, simplified procedures and more efficiency and productivity. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, many tasks were handed over to the self-governing bodies of the regions, provinces and municipalities or entrusted to new, subordinate, administratively independent specialist authorities (“agencies”) and often left only fundamental matters to the ministries. In addition, there was a strong privatization process, which also contributed to the reduction in the number of ministerial administrations. This purification finally allowed the dissolution or merger of several ministries and their internal reorganization.

Semantic differences

The term “State Secretary” ( Segretario di Stato ) has a different meaning in Italy than in Germany or Austria.

The Piedmontese and then Italian ministries were called State Secretariats until 1848. At their head there was always a “First State Secretary” ( Primo Segretario di Stato ), and there were also State Secretaries and Undersecretaries as heads of subordinate organizational units within the small State Secretariats.

With the renaming to ministries, the above-mentioned office designations were reassigned. The ministers were at the same time “First State Secretaries”, later only “State Secretaries” ( Ministro - Segretario di Stato ), the “Vice Ministers” were “Undersecretaries”.

In the further course the addition “State Secretary” (Minister) was largely dispensed with, while the term “Undersecretary of State” ( Sottosegretario di Stato ) prevailed over the term “Vice Minister”.

For this reason, the Italian term Segretario di Stato is still a (rarely used) synonym for ministers (with their own area of ​​responsibility). The equivalent of a German or Austrian State Secretary in Italy is therefore an “Undersecretary”. For obvious reasons of understanding, the latter is usually referred to in the German-speaking media as the “State Secretary”.

In 2001, as part of the reform of the Italian ministerial bureaucracy, the old term "vice minister" was reactivated. Up to ten Undersecretaries of State ( Sottosegretario di Stato ) may hold the title of Vice Minister if they assume direct political responsibility for one or more (main) departments in ministries and thus relieve the respective minister in a special way.

List of ministries

Current ministries

Department Surname Establishment Remarks
Exterior Ministero degli Affari Esteri 1717 Is a direct successor to the State Secretariat of the Savoy
Interior Ministero dell'Interno 1717 Is a direct successor to the State Secretariat of the Savoy
Judiciary Ministero della Giustizia 1848 Originated from the office of Grand Chancellor of Savoy
defense Ministero della Difesa 1947 Originated from the war, navy and aviation ministries
Finances Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze 2001 Merger of finance, budget and treasury departments
Industry Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico 1916 Quite a few changes over time
Infrastructure Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti 2001 Created by merging the ministries for public works and transport
Agriculture Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali 1848 Quite a few changes over time
environment Ministero dell'Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare 1986 Originated from the Ministry of Culture
job Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali 1920 Quite a few changes over time
education Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca 1847 Universities and research have their own ministry several times
Culture and tourism Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e del turismo 1975 Spun off from the Ministry of Education, integrated the tourism sector in 2014
health Ministero della Salute 1958 Merged several times with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

Italian governments typically have a number of non-portfolio ministers assigned to specific tasks. These are usually European policy, regional affairs or urgent reforms. As the name suggests, these ministers do not have their own ministry. In the Presidency of the Council of Ministers , the office of the Prime Minister comparable to a ministry, offices or departments are set up for ministers without a portfolio.

Former ministries

The list below is not exhaustive. Various name changes and minor organic changes are not always taken into account.

Department Surname time Changes
aviation Ministero dell'Aeronautica 1925-1947 In Defense risen
nutrition Ministero degli Approvvigionamenti e Consumi Alimentari 1918-1919 Developed due to the war
armor Ministero delle Armi e Munizioni 1917-1918 Developed due to the war
Military welfare Ministero dell'Assistenta Militare e Pensioni di Guerra 1917-1919 Developed due to the war
household Ministero del Bilancio 1947-1996 First slammed the Treasury, then absorbed into the Ministry of Economics and Finance
Colonies Ministero delle Colonie 1912-1953 From 1937 Ministero dell'Africa Italiana
Foreign trade Ministero del Commercio con l'Estero ( Commercio Internazionale ) 1947-2008 Merged into the “Ministry for Economic Development” (Ministry of Industry)
Civil defense Ministero per il Coordinamento della Protezione Civile 1982-1992 Raised in the Presidium of the Council of Ministers
Folk culture Ministero della Cultura Popolare 1935-1945 Most recently in the Italian Social Republic
"National Economy" Ministero dell'Economia Nazionale 1922-1943 From 1929 "Ministry of Corporations", from 1943 "Industry, Trade and Labor"
Finances Ministero delle Finanze 1817-2001 Raised in the Ministry of Economics and Finance
war Ministero della Guerra 1717-1947 Raised in the Ministry of Defense
Public Works Ministero dei lavori Pubblici 1848-2001 In the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport risen
marine Ministero della Marina 1850-1947 Raised in the Ministry of Defense
Merchant marine Ministero della Marina Mercantile 1946-1993 Raised in the Ministry of Transport
State holdings Ministero delle Partecipazioni Statali 1956-1993 Raised in the Treasury, then from 2001 economics and finance
post Office Ministero delle Poste e Telegrafi ( Poste e Telecomunicazioni ) 1889-2008 From 1924 to 1944 and from 1997 Ministero delle Comunicazioni , in 2008 at the Ministry of Economic Development
War economy Ministero della Produzione Bellica 1943-1944 Developed due to the war
Treasury Ministero del Tesoro 1877-2001 From 1922 to 1944 and from 2001 to the Ministry of Finance
traffic Ministero dei Trasporti ( Traporti Marittimi e Ferroviari ) 1916-2001 In the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport risen
tourism Ministero del Turismo e dello Spettacolo 1959-1993 Raised in the Ministry of Culture and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers
Universities and research Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca 1988-2001 In the Ministry of Education, University and Research risen


  1. Article 95 (PDF; 439 kB) of the Italian constitution: dirige la politica generale del governo
  2. Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 10 gennaio 1957, n.3, on (PDF; 375 kB)
  3. See also the federal employee collective agreement and the collective agreement for the public service ; A comparable tariff system only exists in Italy today in the subordinate local authorities (the functional and remuneration groups there have alphanumeric names)
  4. The official titles in Italy's senior foreign service are: Segretario di Legazione ( Legation Secretary ), Consigliere di Legazione ( Legation Council ), Consigliere d'Ambasciata ( Counselor ), Ministro Plenipotenziario ( Ministre plénipotentiaire ) and Ambasciatore ( Ambassador ). Details on
  5. Norms in materia di disciplina dell'attività di Governo , 81/2001, on

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