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Political Machiavellis: how Conte acquired more power than Mussolini

For those of you who signed up to the email automation, you saw this example:

It was an analysis of how Conte was starting to out-maneuver his more powerful backers to centralize power (for himself).

Originally, he was put in power as a figure-head prime minister by the two biggest coalition parties who couldn't decide on a prime minister (each wanted a man from their own ranks of course, and neither was going to give in).
So they picked a guy who they thought was easy to control and who was supposed to be there just to do their biddings.

In that original analysis, I was making the point that Conte had started to outplay his original backers and to elbow them aside.
The first big international move was when he befriended Trump (picture above).

As time went by, the trend continued.
Conte confirmed his good understanding of power and power dynamics, and he applied that knowledge to grow more and more powerful.
He also grew in his role, becoming more authoritative and confident, which further helped him along the way.

And today I was pleased to see that Conte's power moves didn't go unnoticed by everyone:

conte more powerful than Mussolini

That was a truly good article by Bloomberg that chronicles how he went from an unknown professor, to figure-head prime minister, to outplaying all his former backers.

Here is one interesting passage from that article:

(...) he had friends in high places. Trump praised him as a “a very talented man” and took an unusual step of supporting Conte.. 

That's what I was talking about in the original analysis of Conte smartly taking advantage of an isolated Trump to make friends with him.
With that, he got the backing of the most powerful man in the world.


But he has the support of his EU colleagues, who learned that they can rely on him during his almost two years in office.

Another reminder of the importance of making friends and allies for personal success and solid grasp on power.


At summit meetings in Brussels he’s chatted into the early hours over beers with Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. The German chancellor appreciates his charm 

There he was the fox, developing solid interpersonal relationships with the most powerful players in the EU.


Macron always backed Conte's insistence on the EU providing emergency, non-repayable grants against Covid-19.
And Merkel eventually also accepted.

In good part, that's because they were friends. And because they respected him.
Again, we go back to the basics: bring your personal value to the table, and mix power with warmth.

Some smaller and rich countries are still opposing the grants, of course (I'd do the same because it's the most rational thing to do). And that's one of the difficulties of dealing with a multitude of players: it's hard to charm and befriend everyone).



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Adding High-Quality Traits to Machiavellianism

One crucial aspect I forgot to mention:

Conte is not being an asshole.

He is the most beloved and respected politician right now in Italy.
And that's in spite of the biggest recession the country has ever seen since WWII.

That is a MASSIVE feat, especially in a country of political fickleness as Italy.

So far, Conte has embodied what this website always recommended, such as that "to be good, you need to know how to be bad".
Conte had:

  1. the Machiavellian intelligence and ruthlessness to dispatch of his enemies
  2. the cunning and social intelligence for social maneuvering
  3. the strong values that underpin a high-quality man

Elements 1 and 2 would have been enough for power in a dictatorship.
With a strong army in some banana republic -or with a coup d'etat in a democracy- that's all he needed.

But it's N.3 that gave him the respect of everyone and the willingness to support him, even when they disagreed with all his policies -and I count myself in that group-.

I'm reading a book now called "The Good Psychopath Guide to Success", same author as "The Wisdom of Psychopaths". Both books also embody part of this philosophy (although it wrongly romanticizes psychopathy).


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Lucio Buffalmano
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