Keywords: Local administration; Politics; Bureaucracy; Land-use planning; Local elected officers.
This article focuses on the relationship between the functions of political direction and technical management in the Italian municipal administrations. Based on a survey of municipal officeholders in Lombardy, the article explores their relationship with local bureaucrats in land-use planning, their own rationality in decision-making,and their own activities in the implementation of plans. The analysis concludes that a clear-cut separation between political direction and technical management is not realistic. Local politicians and bureaucrats are intermingled in strategic and operational activities with overlapping roles, despite the law providing for unambiguous distinction between their functions. This emphasizes once more the need for factual analysis of policy processes while not ignoring their regulative framework.