Traditionally at the margins of the political debate, minimum income protection has recently become a key issue in Italian politics. After decades of social and political “neglect” letting Italy the only European country (with Greece) still lacking an anti‐poverty minimum income safety net in the 2010s, finally a national programme called Inclusion Income was introduced in 2018, then replaced by a more robustly financed scheme, the Citizenship Income in 2019. The introduction of these new programmes was the object of an intense political debate, which raises two main puzzles. Why a policy field characterized by the low political resources of would be beneficiaries and low incidence on the overall welfare budget has become so important in the political debate? How did it occur in Italy, where minimum income protection had been absent in political discourses for at least five decades after World War II? To answer these questions, this article first elaborates a novel theoretical framework which combines the main properties of socio‐political demand and political supply in order to explain the scope and direction of minimum income reforms. Second, it provides an analytically oriented reconstruction of MIS policy trajectory in Italy in the three different phases: the phase of MIS “neglect” (1948–1992) characterized by inertia; the period of political “contentiousness” (1993–2012), marked by attempts of path departure followed by policy reversals; the more recent phase leading to the introduction and institutionalization of a MIS. Third, the article provides a theoretically framed interpretation of the overall MIS trajectory in Italy.