Keywords: conflict of interest, politicians, professional public officers, abstention from decision, incompatibility, embargo.
The study reflects the position taken by the Italian National Anti-Corruption Authority in the occasion of a public parliamentary hearing about the ways to avoid conflicts of interest regarding politicians (members of elected assemblies or members of executive offices) who take decisions within public institutions. The paper proposes a different approach to the problem. First of all apply to politicians the prevention instruments already adopted for professional public officers. Secondly, distinguish between occasional and structural conflicts of interest: in first case the abstention from any participation to the public decision could be sufficient, provided that the abstention would be total and complete. In the second case the main road to follow is preventing the particular interest holder to accede the political charge (through the application of incompatibilities or embargoes). These instruments prove to be largely more efficient than the traditional approach based on complicated measures like blind trust or obligations to sell properties or investments.