Elliot Gerson is an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute, responsible for its Policy Programs, its Public Programs and its relations with international partners.
Aspen Institute Italy continues to demonstrate its enormously influential role in Italian government and culture.
Italy’s new Prime Minister Enrico Letta, is a longtime member of Aspen Italia (its Italian name). He has been one of its four vice presidents for a decade. Letta was appointed to his new position by the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, even longer a member of Aspen Italia, and dating to before he was president.
A membership organization, Aspen Italia has 240 individual members, of which about 180 are Italian (it also has 150 sustaining, or corporate members). Its contributions in Italy and throughout Europe are hugely disproportionate to its numbers. Its members are primarily leading academics, as well as leaders of government and the media.
Indeed, three of the last four presidents of the Italian Republic (Cossiga, Ciampi and Napolitano) were members of Aspen Italia before being elected. And Prime Minister Letta’s status with Aspen Italia is also not unusual. Five out of the last six (Prodi, D’Alema, Amato, Monti, Letta) were Aspen Italia members; only Silvio Berlusconi was not a member of Aspen Italia (although his company, Mediaset, supported it). Four of these prime ministers were members of Aspen Italia before being appointed.
And the Aspen connections are numerous in the Italian cabinet as well. The finance minister with the longest tenure in the history of the Italian Republic, Giulio Tremonti, has been president of Aspen Italia since 2003. In the recent “technocratic” government of Prime Minister Monti, seven senior and junior ministers were members of Aspen Italia, including foreign policy expert Marta Dassu, who previously ran Aspen Italia’s programs in international relations.
We look forward to watching as many of the members of Aspen Italia continue to shape the pathway forward for Italy.