REPRESENT is the Research Centre for the Study of Parties and Democracy. It is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham, under the direction of Professor Nic Cheeseman (International Development Department, Birmingham) and Dr Fernando Casal Bértoa (School of Politics and International Relations, Nottingham).

REPRESENT aims to bring together, and drive, innovative research in three areas that are, at present, disconnected: research on the falling social penetration of established political parties, research on the rise of populism, and research on the effectiveness of foreign aid given to support democracy. It does so on an interdisciplinary basis, connecting development studies, political science and area studies, and by bringing together leading experts on the politics of different regions (including Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia).

REPRESENT provides a ‘hub’ for knowledge exchange between academic researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. It aims to increase the accessibility of academic expertise on democratization to policy-makers and practitioners, to support researchers seeking to produce policy-relevant research on political parties and democratization, and to act as an ‘incubator’ for new collaborations between these groups.

Throughout 2019, REPRESENT will host a seminar series and a workshop, Evolving Party Systems, Ideological Configurations and Values (to be held in Nottingham 17 May 2019).

Key people

Nic Cheeseman is Professor of Democracy and International Development at the University of Birmingham.

Nic is the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform (CUP, 2015) and over twenty journal articles on democratization and politics in Africa. He is also the editor of the collections Our Turn to Eat: Politics in Kenya Since 1950 (2010), The Handbook of African Politics (2013), and African Politics: Major Works (2016), and two special issues of the Journal of Eastern African Studies on the Kenyan elections of 2007 and 2013. As well as being the former editor of the journal African Affairs, the #1 ranked journal in Area Studies, Nic is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, the Oxford Dictionary of African Politics, and the co-editor of the Handbook of Kenyan Politics (forthcoming). He writes about contemporary events in Africa in a bi-weekly column for Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, regularly provides analysis to the UK and US governments, and is an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel.

For more information, see his personal website: www.democracyinafrica.org

Fernando Casal Bértoa is an Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom).

Fernando is member of the OSCE/ODIHR “Core Group of Political Party Experts”. He is also Co-chair of the Council for European Studies’ Research Network on “Political Parties, Party Systems and Elections”. His work has been published in Journal of Politics, European Journal of Political Research, Sociological Methods and Research, West European Politics, Party Politics, Democratization, European Constitutional Law Review, Political Studies Review, Government and Opposition, International Political Science Review, South European Society and Politics, East European Politics and Societies or East European Politics. Currently, he is co-authoring an OUP monogragh titled “Party System Closure: Alliances and Innovations in Europe between 1848 and 2016”.  He has also been awarded the 2017 Gordon Smith and Vincent Wright Memorial Prize, as well as the 2017 AECPA Prize for the Best Article.

Lise Storm is a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics and Director of Education at the University of Exeter’s Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies.

Several issues lie at the core of Lise’s research agenda: democracy and democratization; parties and party systems; and party system institutionalization. These are the topics at the core of my research agenda. While she occasionally works on cases outside of the Arab World, her work focusses most often on North Africa, and the Maghreb in particular. Over the past few years, she has published, lectured and debated widely on issues relating to the state of democracy and the likelihood of democratic, political change in North Africa. Most notably, she has recently published Party Politics and the Prospects for Democracy in North Africa (Lynne Rienner, 2013) and ‘The Fragile Tunisian Democracy’ in Gana (ed.) The Making of the Tunisian Revolution (Edinburgh University Press, 2013). 

Susan Dodsworth is a Research Fellow at the International Development Department, University of Birmingham.

Since January 2016, Susan has been working on the Political Economy of Democracy Promotion Project, a collaboration with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Susan has co-authored a number of policy papers on parliamentary strengthening, political party assistance and civil society support. Her research has appeared in leading journals, including African Affairs and the Journal of Development Studies. Susan’s doctoral thesis examined the impact of budget support on parliaments and accountability in sub-Saharan Africa.

Photo credit: Vote!, by Michael Pittman, used under CC BY-SA 2.0. Original photo here.