One day, I received an email from a member of the Foundation veDrò. The subject of the email was an invitation to a two days workshop. The objective of this workshop was to improve understanding of Italian policy making, but also to understand how Italy was seen from abroad.
Spy game? Not really. Let’s improve our international relations was the organizers’ main goal. Berlusconi was the prime minister and this did not help to improve understanding of Italy’s real image abroad. A portray of Venice and its canals was also a necessary precondition for foreigners.
I denied the invitation several times. I had left Italy 20 years ago. Political corruption, mafia, clientelism and amoral familism were the key reasons. These items were seldom portrayed in photos. I also did not tolerate unethical do ut des relations so common in Italy, but also present in other countries, as I later discovered.
In order to calm people down, after several pressures, I accepted the invitation. I received several emails and requests at the time, so one more could not have been too dangerous for my career. I was wrong…
The Foundation veDrò was established by the former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta officially as a networking platform to share ideas. Its members included also the current Minister of Interior Angelino Alfano. As I now understand, as reported by several articles in journals (see, for example, here, here and here), it was in reality a selection platform for future Italian politicians sponsored by several companies.
It was unexpectedly closed after some years of activities for allegations of unclear financing activities that suggested also a possible illicit party financing.
When blocked in Italy I was surprised to notice a high number of members of veDrò becoming ministers or politicians. Enrico Letta was one of these. High ranking Italian politician, parent of Gianni Letta (senator and advisor of Silvio Berlusconi), became short-term Prime Minister after the fall of the Monti government on the 28th of April 2013.
For those interested, after the fall of the Letta government on the 22nd of February 2014 due to an imbuscade of Matteo Renzi (current Italian Prime Minister who also occasionally participated in these meetings), Enrico Letta expatriated at the Centre d’etudes Europeennes of Sciences Po (surprise, surprise), where he now works as the new Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs.
To go back to my story, I went to the meeting organized by the Foundation veDrò and contributed as I could. Reading the proposals for institutional reforms whilst providing what I thought were some constructive comments. I also attended a dinner where Piercarlo Padoan, the current Italian Finance Minister, was giving a speech.
After that day, I suppose my name circulated in Italian ministries and false dossiers about my private life circulated. For unknown reasons, someone suggested I should have worked as parliamentary assistant. Funny enough, I had escaped these kind of offers twenty years ago when I left the University La Sapienza of Rome. I thought: Rent-seeking politicians equals problems. I have never been good in math, but this equation still holds true.
To be continued….