Seminar: The drivers of party system institutionalization in Africa’s young democracies

On May 3, Dr. Edalina Rodrigues Sanches from the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon presented her research at a REPRESENT seminar in Nottingham (co-hosted by the Nottingham Interdisciplinary Centre for Economic and Political Research).

Edalina discussed her recent book, Party Systems in Young Democracies: Varieties of Institutionalization in Sub-Saharan Africa.

For those that missed the seminar, you can download an audio recording here.

Photo: Frelimo party rally, Mozambique. By Adrien Barbier via Flickr. Used under creative commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

You can “fix” populism in three minutes, right?

At our public event on 26 April, we challenged ten leading academics, politicians, activists and practitioners to pitch their big idea for “fixing” populism… in three minutes. Some challenged the premise that populism was a problem that needed fixing, some looked for deeper causes and some put forward innovative options for renewing political institutions. All are worth listening to! With that in mind, here are links to recordings of the full line up.


And the winner is…

At our public event, one thing became clear: If you want to “fix” populism, you have get youth engaged in politics.

After ten leading academics, politicians, activists and practitioners pitched their big ideas about how to respond to populism, the result of the audience vote was a tie! Our two winning pitches had something in common – both emphasised that engaging youth in politics is essential if response to populism are to be effective.

Click through the following links to listen to the winning pitches:

Dan Lawes, YouthPoliticsUK: Modernise our democracy before populism does it for us.

Professor Philippe C. Schmitter, European University Institute: Universal Citizenship

POPULISM: Can we fix it?

A public event, open to all.

On April 26, 2018, from 17:30 to 19:00, at the Aston Webb Main Lecture Theatre,  University of Birmingham

The recent electoral success of populist candidates in developed and developing countries has triggered a surge in concern about populism, the state of democracy, and the future of political parties. At this public event, leading academics, politicians, activists and practitioners will offer up their ‘big idea’ for responding to populism in a series of three-minute pitches, with the audience selecting the winning idea. Join us to debate whether we can – or should – ‘fix’ populism. 

Speakers will include:

  • Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy, International Development Department at the University of Birmingham
  • Tereza Capelos, Senior Lecturer in Political Psychology and Deputy Director of the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham
  • The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, Member of Parliament for the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield
  • Miriam Lexmann, Director of the EU Office of the International Republican Institute
  • Philippe C. Schmitter, Emeritus Professor, European University Institute
  • Hilary Wainwright, Sociologist, political activists and co-editor of Red Pepper
  • Dan Lawes, Founder & Editor, YouthPolitics UK
  • Keboitse Machangana, Director of Global Programmes, International IDEA
  • Anthony Smith, CEO of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy
  • Edin Elgsaether, Knowledge and Innovation Advisor, Netherlands Institute for Multi-party Democracy
  • Matt Qvortrup, Chair of Applied Political Science, Coventry University


Photo credit: Paste-up street art, Berlin. Photo by Dr Case. Original image here. Used under creative commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).

REPRESENT to host conference: Political Parties in the Age of Populism

On April 26-27, REPRESENT will host a conference, Political Parties in the Age of Populism, at the University of Birmingham. The conference will examine the challenges populism poses to traditional political parties, the opportunities it might create for new forms of political participation, and the implications of both for efforts to promote democracy overseas.

A distinctive feature of this conference will be its emphasis on building bridges between academics conducting research on these themes, and policy-makers and practitioners confronting these problems in the field. Speakers will include representatives from organisations such as International IDEA, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

Full details of the conference, including the schedule, are available in this document.

Those interested in attending the conference should contact Susan Dodsworth by email ( to RSVP as soon as possible, as spaces are limited.

Photo credit: Democracy, by Thomas Hawk. Original image here. Used under creative commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).

New summer school on political parties and democracy

Organised under the auspices of the Standing Group on Central East European Politics and with the support of the Standing Group on Political Parties of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), the inaugural Summer School on Political Parties and Democracy will bring together an international team of academics and practitioners to train and instruct a group of 20 MA/PhD researchers, practitioners and civil society leaders.

The summer school will be sponsored by the European Consortium for Political Research, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, together with REPRESENT.

Full details are available here.

Photo credit: Political posters in Ukraine, taken by the Congress of local and regional authorities mission to observe pre-term local elections on 25 May 2014. Original image here. Used under creative commons (CC BY-ND 2.0).

REPRESENT holds first research seminar

On 29 January 2018, Professor Cees van der Eijk and Dr. Annemarie Walter from the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham presented  at REPRESENT’s first seminar in Birmingham. Their latest research examines the effects of negative campaigning on party preference and election outcome in the 2015 UK election. Their findings suggest that negative campaigns tend to lose you votes and benefit your competitors, albeit in complex and unpredictable ways. This present a challenge to ‘accepted wisdom’ among professional campaigners and party strategists; most remain adamant that ‘going negative’ is a winning move.

Details of future seminars are available here.

REPRESENT to cooperate with International IDEA

REPRESENT has announced an agreement to cooperate with International IDEA on a new project, ‘Party Funding in Asia.’ This collaboration will centre on the Political Finance Database (PFDB) project, a leading global resource on political finance.

International IDEA, through its Political Participation and Representation Processes Programme,  plans to launch a new version of the PFDB in 2018. Together International IDEA and REPRESENT will ensure the quality of updated data, co-produce related analysis, and develop ‘spin-off’ products.

Photo credit: 2009 Elections in Indonesia, by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, used under CC BY 2.0. Original photo here.