Research area Comparative Politics and Empirical Democracy Research

This assistant professorship is held by Prof. Dr. Lucas Leemann.



The research group focuses on democratic representation. We seek to understand how political systems differ in their ability to aggregate individual preferences and map these onto policies. We thereby look mostly at individual institutions that make up the entire democratic system. We study how the presence or absence of specific institutions affects the behavior of governments, legislators, political parties, and the social groups, and how this affects policy outcomes. A related, but distinct, topic that we are interested in is that of the conditions that are conducive to the introduction or emergence of specific institutions. Past and ongoing research has analyzed the conditions under which electoral systems are changed, how direct democratic institutions affect policy congruence, or how civil society groups and political parties strategically use the initiative in different ways.

A second research area is captured with the umbrella term data science. We develop and refine statistical tools that are used to study the questions described above. One main area of ongoing research is preference measurement and survey data analysis. Past research has developed StratSel (strategic selection estimator) and MrsP (multilevel regression with synthetic post-stratification) and ongoing research is trying to leverage machine learning for the optimal specification of MrP and MrsP models.

Typical research and teaching topics at this group are:

  • Institutional origins
  • Representation
  • Direct Democracy
  • Preference measurement (MrP and IRT)
  • Hierarchical Modeling