Elisa Volpi, Florentine: hers the best European thesis in Political Science

Elisa Volpi feels privileged: They pay me to study what I like. But she also knows that everything she has achieved has come through merit, commitment and determination and she is proud of it. I am the first person in my family to graduate, the odds of me pursuing an academic career were against me. Instead she did it and successfully: Elisa, a 33-year-old Florentine, after her master’s degree in political science from the University of Florence and her doctorate from the European University Institute, arrived at the University of Geneva, where she has a contracted as a researcher. Last year he won the Jean Blondel Prize, awarded by the European Consortium for Political Research (an association that brings together the major universities and associations of political studies in Europe) for the best thesis in political science in Europe, for his thesis The Politics of Turning Coat: A Comparative and Historical Analysis of Party Switching.

To write it, for a year and a half has collected and analyzed a lot of data on parliamentary transformation, the changes of shirt that took place over a period of 70 years, from 1945 to 2015, in 14 countries. I spent my days sifting through the minutes of parliamentary sessions. I discovered that transformism is a phenomenon that does not only happen in Italy: it is also very common in France and in the last 10 years it has grown almost everywhere, even in countries that have always been very stable up to now. The most stable are still Germany, Belgium and Spain, which has experienced a lot of turbulence in electoral terms, but few parliamentary transformations: the opposite of Italy.

The turning point in Elisa Volpi’s university career came when she won a scholarship for a doctorate at the European University Institute, in Fiesole, one of the most prestigious institutes with an international dimension. In Geneva ended up by chance. I met my future boss at a conference, who read the doctoral thesis I was working on (the one for which she received the Jean Blondel Prize, ed) and quite unexpectedly one day he called me asking and offered me a place. I pretended to think about it, but I didn’t have the slightest doubt: I accepted. So in 2018 he packed his suitcase for Geneva: “Here I always deal with the behavior of the political elite, but analyzing behaviors to overcome economic inequality. What about the future? The academic career as privileged, but difficult: the further you go, the fewer positions available, and great flexibility is required: we will see. Elisa among the five women for the restart who will be awarded on Monday 8 March by the Regional Council of Tuscany for the Women’s Day: in addition to her, the scientists Teresa Fornaro and Claudia Sala, and the sportsmen Ambra Sabatini and Chiara Sacco.

March 6, 2021 | 18:58

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