Lorenzo Fioramonti did not intend to spend more than a decade abroad when he left Italy to start his academic career.

But despite a formidable publication record, including 10 well-received books and 60 peer-reviewed articles on economics and international relations, as well as an impressive following among influential economists, he was unable to secure an academic post in his homeland.

“Each time I applied, the process took longer and longer — the selection process was never ending,” recalled Fioramonti, now Italy’s minister for education, universities and research. His return followed his nomination to Parliament by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement in January 2018, with his election three months later ending his time in South Africa, where he was professor of economics at the University of Pretoria.

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