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Welcome to the Research Centre for the Study of Parties and Democracy

Next events:

3 May (16:00-17:30 UK time): Research Seminar
Patronage distribution, co-optation, and invisible electoral manipulation

Speaker: Halfdan Lynge (University of the Witwatersrand)

Convenor and Discussant: Fernando Casal Bértoa (University of Nottingham)


How do political candidates choose from the menu of manipulation? When do they buy votes, when do they stuff the ballots boxes, and when do they opt out of electoral manipulation altogether? Most research has focused on the ‘blunter’ types of electoral manipulation. Less attention has been given to the ‘subtler’ types and the properties that differentiate them. This paper looks at one type of ‘subtle’ electoral manipulation: miscounting, meaning election officers who selectively reject ballots during the counting. It suggests that miscounting is characterised by low risks and high direct costs. On one hand, it is almost invisible, embedded in the sociocultural norms and practices surrounding elections in many non-democracies. On the other, it is expensive, requiring large amounts of patronage to co-opt election officers. This makes miscounting attractive only to incumbents who fear electoral defeat and have well-established clientelistic networks. The paper tests this argument against data from parliamentary elections in Ghana. Consistent with the argument, it finds that the effect of electoral uncertainty on miscounting is conditional. When the MPs do not have resources at their disposal, they choose other types of electoral manipulation or opt out of electoral manipulation altogether.


Halfdan Lynge is a Senior Lecturer at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa). His research in comparative politics and political economy broadly explores the effects of elections on public policy and spending. In addition, he has an interest in parliamentary oversight and its effect on fiscal policy. Halfdan holds a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). He spent more than five years with UNDP in Africa and Asia, including as the manager of several parliamentary development and political party strengthening projects. His last position was as Head of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he supervised a team of advisors to the UN Country Team. Halfdan started his career as a governance specialist, working with the National Assembly of Mozambique, and continues to work as a governance consultant. Recent assignments include a monograph for UNDP on political party regulation and oversight in the Pacific region, co-authored with Fernando Casal-Bertoa, and an evaluation of UNDP support to parliaments and political parties in West and Central Africa.


This seminar will be held as a hybrid. Please indicate in your registration whether you wish to take part via our online platform or in person. The in-person event will take place in the Monica Partridge building room D09 on the University Park Campus at the University of Nottingham.

Please click here to register: Registration

To Be Confirmed (Spring 2023): Big Ideas Workshop
Grant capture sandpit and luncheon

Convenor: William Daniel (University of Nottingham)


To be confirmed.

To Be Confirmed: Research Seminar
Local Candidates in Indian Elections

Speaker: Dishil Shrimankar (University of Manchester)

Discussant: Simon Toubeau (University of Nottingham)

Chair and Convenor: Fernando Casal Bértoa (University of Nottingham)

Synopsis of the paper:

Campaigns not only mobilize those they directly contact; they also benefit from “secondary mobilization”, when the voters they contact in turn mobilize members of their own social networks. In this article, we hypothesize that the existing social networks of local candidates form an important type of secondary mobilization. These mobilzation networks help to extend the range of people who are contacted by a campaign, boosting candidate support and in the process increasing turnout in the local area. We provide evidence for these hypotheses using geo-matched micro-level polling booth data to exploit within-electoral-district variation in candidate vote share and turnout in India (N=523,214).


Dishil Shrimankar is a Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the University of Manchester. Prior to joining the University, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. He completed a PhD in political science from the University of Nottingham. His research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics, Indian politics and quantitative methods. He is currently conducting research on local candidates in Indian elections as part of a Leverhulme Trust funded early career research fellowship. His doctoral dissertation explained the puzzle of why regional parties succeed in some Indian regions, but not in others. He showed that when national parties are decentralized and the regional branch is granted more autonomy, regional parties find it hard to succeed. A second component of the dissertation investigates why some regional branches of national parties have more autonomy where others do not.


To be confirmed.


is a joint initiative of the University of Nottingham and University of Birmingham. Founded with the support of the Strategic Collaboration Fund, it is currently supported by funding from the School of Politics and IR at the University of Nottingham and continues to serve as hub for academic collaboration in the Midlands and beyond. We are an inclusive group and encourage all academics and doctoral researchers interested in parties, democracy and representation to join us and help develop REPRESENT.

About Us

REPRESENT focuses on three key research themes: populism, participation and democracy support.


REPRESENT hosts a series of seminars and a workshop Evolving Party Systems, Ideological Configurations and Values.


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Fernando Casal Bertoa

Fernando Casal Bértoa

Co-Director (Nottingham)

  • Associate Professor in Comparative Politics
  • School of Politics and International Relations – University of Nottingham
  • Research interests: political party (funding) regulation, party (system) institutionalization, democracy promotion, qualitative methods
William Daniel

William T. Daniel


  • Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics
  • School of Politics and International Relations – University of Nottingham
  • Research interests: political parties, legislatures, European Union
Tim Haughton

Tim Haughton

Co-Director (Birmingham)

  • Reader (Senior Associate Professor) in European Politics
  • Department of Political Science and International Studies – University of Birmingham
  • Research interests: campaigning, party politics in Central and Eastern Europe, politics of Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic
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