In Denmark, the happiest nation in Europe, 64 percent trusted their Parliament. For Italians, the number was 36 percent. “Unfortunately we found this issue of social trust was a bit missing” in Italy, Ms. Corrado said.
Two popular books that set off months of debate capture the distrust of large powers that cannot be controlled. One, “The Caste,” sold a million copies (in a nation where sales of 20,000 make a best seller) by exposing the sins of Italy’s political class and how it became privileged and unaccountable. Even the presidency, once above the fray, was not spared; the book put the office’s annual cost at $328 million, four times as much as Buckingham Palace.
The other book, “Gomorrah,” which sold 750,000 copies, concerns the mob around Naples, the camorra. But politics, it argues, allows the camorra to flourish, keeping Italy’s lagging south poor, and organized crime, by a recent study, the economy’s largest sectori