Research Cluster

Comparative Democracy



Research Questions | Goals
: How is democracy organized? How does democracy differ from autocracy? What are the social and economic requirements of democracy? What is the future of democracy? In this research area, the main interest centres on the principles, structures and lines of development of democratic governance. Concrete research interests focus on the systematic analysis of the different forms of democracy, also in comparison with autocratic forms of rule, on the institutional transformation of democracy as a result of democratic innovations and reform policies, on structures and processes of political representation, on the recruitment, careers and attitudes of the political elite in democracy, on the interrelationship of religion and democracy, on the development of the electorate’s behaviour and political attitudes as well as on the impact of changing media technologies on democracy.

Method: The underlying theoretical approach in this research field is decidedly empirical and analytical and characterized by a marked interest in questions related to qualitative and quantitative methods.

Participating Professors
Jens Borchert
, Brigitte Geißel, Heike Holbig, Sigrid Roßteutscher, Richard Traunmüller, Claudius Wagemann, Thomas Zittel



Projects (Selection)

German Longitudinal Election Study

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Sigrid Roßteutscher
Funding: DFG


The Nature of Political Representation in Times of Dealigment (NAPRE)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Thomas Zittel (in cooperation with Prof. Rosie Campbell, King’s College London und Prof. Tom Louwerse, Leiden University)
Funding: DFG, ESRC, NWO; within the 5th Open Research Area program (ORA)


(New) Political Representative Claims: A Global View (France, Germany, Brazil, India, China)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Brigitte Geißel (in cooperation with Prof. Yves Sintomer, Prof. Dr. Thomas Heberer, Prof. Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal)
Funding: DFG

Protecting the Weak. Entangled Processes of Framing Mobilization and Institutionalization in East Asia.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Heike Holbig
Funding: Volkswagenstiftung


Inequality and Direct Democracy in Europe

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Brigitte Geißel
Funding: DFG


„When bad men combine, the good must associate…“? Eine ideengeschichtliche Studie zur Wahrnehmung politischer Parteien in Großbritannien und Deutschland im langen 19. Jahrhundert

Principal Investigator: Dr. Philipp Erbentraut
Funding: DFG


Most important Publications

Bieber, Ina & Roßteutscher, Sigrid & Scherer, Philipp. 2018. Die Metamorphosen der AfD-Wählerschaft: Von einer euroskeptischen Protestpartei zu einer (r)echten Alternative?, Politische Vierteljahresschrift 59(3): 433-461.

Borchert, Jens. 2011. Individual Ambition and Institutional Opportunity: A Conceptual Approach to Political Careers in Multi-level Systems. Regional & Federal Studies 21: 117-140.

Borchert, Jens. 2003. Die Professionalisierung der Politik. Zur Notwendigkeit eines Ärgernisses. Frankfurt: Campus.

Elff, Martin & Roßteutscher, Sigrid. 2018. Social Cleavages and Electoral Behaviour in Long-Term Perspective: Alignment without Mobilisation? German Politics 26(1): 12-34.

Freitag, Markus & Traunmüller, Richard. 2009. Spheres of Trust. An Empirical Analysis of the Foundations of Particularised and Generalised Trust. European Journal of Political Research 48(6): 782–803.

Geissel, Brigitte & Newton, Ken. 2012. Evaluating Democratic Innovations - Curing the Democratic Malaise? London und New York: Routledge.

Gherghina, Sergiu. 2014. Shaping Parties’ Legitimacy: Internal Regulations and Membership Organizations in Post‐Communist Europe. International Political Science Review 35(3): 291-306.

Gschwend, Thomas & Zittel, Thomas. 2018. Who brings home the pork? Parties and the role of localness in committee assignments in mixed-member proportional systems. Party Politics Party Politics 24(5): 488-500.

Holbig, Heike. 2018. Protecting the Weak in East Asia: Framing, Mobilisation, and Institutionalisation. With I. Amelung, M. Bälz, M. Schumann, and C. Storz. London & New York: Routledge.

Holbig, Heike. 2018. Whose New Normal? Framing the Economic Slowdown under Xi Jinping. Journal of Chinese Political Science 23(3): 341-363.

Schneider, Carsten Q. & Wagemann, Claudius. 2012. Set-Theoretic Methods for the Social Sciences. A Guide for Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy Sets in Social Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Traunmüller, Richard, Murr, Andreas & Gill, Jeff. 2015. Modeling Latent Information in Voting Data with Dirichlet Process Priors. Political Analysis 23(1): 1-20.

Wagemann, Claudius. 2012. Breakdown and Change of Private Interest Governments. London: Routledge.

Zittel, Thomas & Fuchs, Dieter. Eds. 2007. Participatory Democracy and Participation. Can Participatory Engineering bring Citizens Back In? London und New York, NY: Routledge.



Citation Profile

SSCI-Citations November 2018: 682 (97)
Google Scholar Citations November 2018: 14923 (2132)
Average h-index based on Google Scholar: 18



Publication Profile

The members of this Research Cluster publish in nationally and internationally renowned journals such as American Behavioral Scientist, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Democratization, Electoral Studies, European Journal of Political Research, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of European Public Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Party Politics, Political Analysis, Political Studies, Political Research Quarterly, Politische Vierteljahresschrift, West European Politics, and others.

The books written by the members of this Research Cluster are released by nationally and internationally renowned publishers such as Cambridge University Press, Campus, Oxford University Press, Nomos, Routledge, Springer VS and others.