The Prefects’ system was introduced in Italy by Napoleon in 1802.
Today, Prefects are career officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They can fulfill various roles, but sooner or later a Prefect is supposed to become the Chief of a Province.
Since Provinces now have an elected Governor, many wonder whether Prefects (with their high salaries and pomp) are still needed.
Prefects are not coping well with the new political climate. Perhaps they feel under pressure, or perhaps they are simply detached from reality. For sure, they are giving the Italian people plenty of reasons to throw them out.
During a public hearing held in October, the Prefect of Naples, H.E. Andrea De Martino, harshly reprimanded Father Maurizio Patriciello, a priest well know for his commitment against organized crime, for a menial reason of protocol: the priest had addressed another Prefect in the room calling her ‘Mrs.’ instead of ‘Prefect’ or ‘Your Excellency’.
The nearly hysterical reaction by Mr. De Martino was widely criticized, with many remembering a famous line by Italian comedian Totò: ‘Only your nature can make you a real VIP’.
Yesterday were released to the public the transcripts of the tapping of the former Prefect of L’Aquila, Mrs. Giovanna Maria Iurato. Mrs. Iurato was in charge of the Province when it was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2009. In the transcripts, Mrs. Iurato laughs remembering how she faked emotion while visiting the remains of a destroyed University college.
Will the next Italian Government have Prefects walk the plank ?