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Jean Blondel PhD Prize


Since October 2003, the ECPR has awarded an annual PhD prize for the best thesis in politics (broadly conceived to include International Relations, Political Theory and Public Administration) nominated by a member institution that, with revision, could be published as a monograph. The prize carries a €1,000 award.

Nominations for the 2024 award have now closed. Thank you to all those who have nominated.

ECPR Jean Blondel PhD PrizeAbout Jean Blondel

Jean Blondel (26 October 1929 – 25 December 2022) was Emeritus Professor at the European University Institute in Florence, and visiting professor at the University of Siena.

In 1964, he became a founding member of the Department of Government at the University of Essex, and five years later, a founding member of the ECPR, of which he was Director for the following ten years. He was appointed scholar of the Russell Sage Foundation in New York in 1984 before becoming professor of political science at the European University Institute in Florence from 1985 to 1994.

Blondel is particularly noted for his contributions to the theory of party systems, the comparative study of cabinets, and the relations between parties and governments. His recent work has focused on a comparison of different presidential systems across the globe, with particular emphasis on Latin America, Africa and the ex-Soviet republics.


Nominations open 8 February 2024.
Nominations close 30 April 2024.

Nominations for the 2024 award have now closed. Thank you to all those who have nominated. 

Submitting a nomination

To nominate, please email a formal nomination letter from the Official Representative or Head of Department of the member institution at which the doctorate was conferred, to

Nominations must be submitted as two separate PDF files as follows:

  • Formal nomination letter that details the name of the nominee, their institutional affiliation, contact details, dissertation title and supervisor/promoter.
  • A document containing:
    • 15 pages text of summary plus maximum five pages of references
    • Annex I: table of contents for full dissertation as figured in PhD officially submitted for defence
    • Annex II (only for PhDs based on a compilation of articles): information on status of publication: in review process/published and journal 


  • The thesis must be deemed to have been passed, and must have been examined during the previous calendrical year; official conferment in this period not required.
  • Only ECPR Member institutions (Full or Associate) can nominate candidates for the prize, and the thesis nominated must have been submitted at that institution.
  • Each ECPR member institution can nominate one candidate for the prize. 
  • The nomination must come via the ECPR Official Representative or the Head of Department.
  • The thesis must be the work of a single author.

The topic of the thesis should fit broadly within the field of political science and political thought. For example, work on political economy should draw substantially on relevant political science literature as well as on any economics literature, likewise work on comparative constitutions should draw substantially on relevant literature from political science as well as from law, and so on.

Please note that any given thesis may only be nominated for either the Joni Lovenduski or the Jean Blondel PhD Prize.


  • Self-nominations are not accepted.
  • Members of the ECPR Executive Committee, ECPR Director, or Editors of any ECPR books, journals or blog are not eligible for this prize.


The documents will be used to select a shortlist (usually of five candidates). The authors of the shortlisted theses will then be asked to provide an electronic copy of their complete thesis.


Shortlisted theses written in languages other than English that are not familiar to the members of the Jury will first be read by a specialist in the field. If this specialist considers the thesis to be a strong candidate for the Prize, the ECPR will pay for up to 20,000 words to be translated into English, so that it can be judged equally by the panel. 


The jury for the 2024 comprises:

  • Hana Kubátová, Charles University, Outgoing member of the Executive Committee
  • Silja Häusermann, University of Zurich
  • Verena Wisthaler, Eurac Research
  • Fernando Casal Bertoa, Nottingham University

Prize announcement and delivery

The winner of the 2024 prize will be announced in late summer 2024.

If it is deemed that no thesis reaches an acceptable standard, the jury may decline to award the prize in any given year.

The successful candidate will be awarded the prize of €1,000.

Questions? Email

2023 – Delia Zollinger, University of Zurich

Delia ZollingerStructural Change, Identity Formation, and Cleavage Consolidation in 21st Century Politics

Our 2023 Jean Blondel prize was awarded to Delia Zollinger, and we have created a short video to celebrate this very special moment along with our Jury Chair, Hana Kubátová, and nominator, Head of the Department of Political Science, Silja Häusermann.

From our Jury  Elegantly crafted, Zollinger’s dissertation combines and advances several key strands of scholarship in political science and political psychology, thereby shedding new light on the evolving landscape of electoral politics in the 21st century. The thesis synthesizes and expands upon existing cleavage research and the study of political identities, both theoretically and methodologically.

Zollinger’s work not only pushes the boundaries of our current understanding but also introduces fresh perspectives that already resonate strongly in the field. What sets this dissertation apart is the theoretical nuance it offers combined with innovative and targeted methodology, encompassing a diverse array of observational and experimental survey designs, open survey questions, and text analysis.

Read full laudation.

2022 – Vicente Valentim, Nuffield College, University of Oxford 

Vicente ValentimSocial Norms and Stigmatized Political Behaviour

Our 2022 Jean Blondel prize was awarded to Vicente Valentim, and we have created a short video to celebrate this very special moment along with our Jury Chair, Hana Kubátová, and nominator, Chair in Political Science at European University Institute, Ellen Immergut.

From our Jury Vicente Valentim's thesis investigates whether and how norms related to politics change. He takes norms related to two major stigmas in advanced democracies – radical-right ideology and behaviour associated with previous authoritarian regimes – as his point of departure. 

Jury members appreciate the innovative character of this thesis and its methodological rigour. Vicente uses a variety of empirical approaches and complements his quantitative tests with qualitative analysis. He collects original datasets to investigate the process in which previously stigmatised expressions are, in time, normalised. 

The Jury applauds this thesis, and we believe it deserves to be read widely. As Vicente shows convincingly, only by understanding the root of the change can we know its direction – let alone identify effective interventions. Read full laudation

2021 – Andreas Juon, University College London

Andreas Juon by Stefan WeissGrievances, identity, and political opportunity: The effects of corporate and liberal power-sharing on ethnic conflict

Our 2021 Jean Blondel prize was awarded to Andreas Juon, and we have created a short video to celebrate this very special moment along with our Jury Chair, Petra Meier, and Andreas' thesis supervisors, Kristin Bakke and Nils Metternich.

From our Jury Andreas Juon takes up a visible theoretical argument from the literature on a most relevant political issue and advances it both conceptually and empirically. Conceptually, the thesis explores the trade-offs between different institutional power-sharing arrangements (corporate vs. liberal) in a very clear, because sharp and yet accessible, way. The doctoral dissertation is a show-case of an excellent construction of the main argument and red thread guiding the research, while at the same time being very accessible for non-informed readers, providing them with ample evidence illustrating the argument. Empirically, the doctoral dissertation tests the long-term consequences of distinct power-sharing arrangements on the basis of an amazing data integration effort and flawless empirical analyses.

The analysis of power-sharing arrangements and variations in their implementation is an impressive comparative research agenda. This study is ambitious in its width and depth, and innovative, providing fascinating insights on the implications of different power-sharing arrangements for peace in divided societies. It advances important theoretical and empirical findings that can inform future institutional policy making. Particularly, its shows clear beneficial effects of corporate over liberal power-sharing arrangements, but also calls the negative side-effects of the former into mind such as the persistent exclusion of those groups that fail to be incorporated. Somewhat counterintuitively, Juon’s analysis stresses the lasting effects of corporate forms of power sharing.

This doctoral dissertation is a big statement piece that will attract great interest. As one of the jury members wrote: ‘A major comparative contribution to studies of power-sharing arrangements having the global ambition that Blondel would have approved of’.

2020 – Elisa Volpi, University of Geneva

Elisa VolpiThe Politics of Turning Coat: A Comparative and Historical Analysis of Party Switching

In light of the exceptional circumstances, we presented the award to Elisa virtually, and created a short video to celebrate this very special moment along with our Jury Chair, Petra Meier and Elisa's thesis supervisor, Stefano Bartolini.

From our Jury Elisa investigates legislative party switching, MPs changing party affiliation during the course of a parliamentary term or turning coat as she also calls it…Her study covers a sample of 14 Western European countries for which she collected an unique data set of all inter-party defections occurring over a time span of 70 years, from 1945–2015. With the help of this dataset she investigates the scope of the phenomenon and explores the determinants of legislative party switching, analysing how legislative party switching is influenced by cost considerations. She opts to study cost – as opposed to gain – considerations of legislative party switching arguing that defection costs can be more easily assessed than eventual benefits. To date, relatively little research has been conducted on this topic, most of it not being comparative and or theoretically embedded…[She]finds that the overall level of party switching is to a large extent determined by party characteristics, especially ideological placement. Another factor playing a role is a low level of party system institutionalisation. Institutional factors seem to have little impact, electoral systems and parliamentary forms of government do play a role when it comes to collective forms of legislative party switching. She argues that individual and collective legislative party switching are not only theoretically…

The jury appreciates the innovative character of the doctoral thesis, both empirically and theoretically…The research design is clearly explained, and the methodology is convincingly justified. The discussion indicates a strong grasp of the epistemological and methodological aspects. The jury values the excellent structure of the manuscript, and the level of development of the arguments.’

2019 – Femke Bakker, Leiden University

Femke Elisabeth BakkerHawks and Doves. The Flawed Microfoundations of Democratic Peace Theory

From our Jury 'Femke’s thesis empirically investigates the theoretical foundation of democratic peace. While her thesis does not raise a new research topic, it explores this question from highly innovative theoretical angles by stressing the micro-foundations of conflict, investigating the assumptions about individuals democratic peace theory relies upon. She more particularly addresses the question 'What influences decision-makers to decide to attack another country when they are on the brink of war?' Femke argues that to understand whether decision-makers from liberal democracies, said not to go to war with other democracies, are really influenced by the democratic institutions and liberal norms of their state, they should be studied in comparison with decision-makers from states of other regime-types. To this end, she uses an innovative experimental research design. Femke employs an ambitious mixed-methods design that involves experiments with approximately 250 students in respectively China, Russia, and the US, an analysis of data on liberal norms in the three countries of study resulting from the World Value Survey, and a case study on the Falklands conflict to triangulate her findings from the comparative study.

With her emphasis on a micro-level actor-based approach to empirically investigate the theoretical foundations of the democratic peace, she makes an interesting and potentially influential contribution to the field, thereby opening a range of options for further empirical investigations using methodologically innovative approaches.'

2018 – Lauren Tooker, University of Warwick and Université libre de Bruxelles

Lauren TookerOrdinary Democracy: Reading Resistances to Debt after the Global Financial Crisis with Stanley Cavell’s Ordinary Language Philosophy

Lauren’s thesis, accomplished as part of an Erasmus Mundus funded Joint PhD programme, examines resistances to debt in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in the UK the US, developing a novel account of democratic subjectivity in the context of International Political Economy. To do so, Lauren applies Stanley Cavell’s ordinary language philosophy. With this theoretical approach, the thesis shows how 'ordinary democratic subjects' are opposing debt-based economic citizenship in the UK and the US.

The study's central argument is that debt’s 'ordinary democrats' are reconstructing debt relations as a site of democratic selfhood and community in finance, thus representing important practices of civic freedom.

From our Jury: 'Lauren’s thesis is not only innovative and theoretically inspiring – it is a thesis with a heart.'

2017 – Verena Wisthaler, University of Leicester and EURAC Research

Verena WisthalerImmigration and Collective Identity in Minority Nations: A longitudinal comparison of Stateless Nationalist and Regionalist Parties in the Basque Country, Corsica, South Tyrol, Scotland and Wales

From our Jury 'Verena’s thesis evaluates stateless nationalist and regionalist parties’ identity constructions between 1992 and 2012. Her focus is on the Basque Country, Corsica, South Tyrol, Scotland and Wales. How do these parties construct national identity in a context of rising immigration? Do these parties consider migrants and diversity as an integral part of minority nations?

The dissertation for the first time deals with these questions in a longitudinal study and with a comparative perspective on the stateless nations. The thesis takes a qualitative approach and analyses the parties’ discourses on immigration and their policies on migrant-integration. The study shows that the parties take different approaches to immigration and the construction of the nation in times of rising immigration. The author convincingly explains these different approaches by carving out the specific political institutional relations between the state and the minority nation on the one hand and the conflict-free societal relations between the minority nation and the state majority living within the minority nation. 

Overall, the thesis generates timely and innovative knowledge and new paths of doing comparative political science analysis. The thesis is problem driven and therefore contributes to our understanding of urgent societal and political problems. Also, the dissertation is a pleasure to read.'

2016 – Philipp Köker, University College London

Philipp KoekerVeto et Peto: Patterns of Presidential Activism in Central and Eastern Europe

From our Jury 'Philipp's thesis maps and explains patterns in the activism of democratic presidents in nine Central and Eastern European democracies between 1990 and 2010 – an issue which has been subject to a number of studies over the last decade. However, only few scholars have explained how presidents actually use their formal powers and actively intervene in politics.

To study presidential activism in the region Köker proposes a new theoretical framework – a nested analysis approach, a statistical analysis and in-depth case studies. This approach, the thesis argues is able to explain presidential activism in and by the constitutional setting and the political environment. Köker put together an original data set including semi-structured elite-interviews on the use of presidents' legislative powers. With these data and the innovative approach the thesis provides an impressive cross-country empirical analyses of the actual use of presidents' reactive powers.

The thesis makes an important contribution to studies of presidential activism, it suggests an innovative research approach to explain this activism and, moreover, it is elegantly constructed and the dissertation is a pleasure to read.'

2015 – Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc, University of Ljubljana and Peace Institute Ljubljana

Jovana Mihajlovic TrbovcPublic Narratives of the Past in the Framework of Transitional Justice Processes: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

From our Jury 'Jovana examines the processes of transitional justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her thesis challenges assumptions about ‘transitional justice’ by studying the prosecution of war crime perpetrators in the 1992 to 1995 war. Different from assumptions that once the ‘truth’ about these crimes is publicly presented, it becomes part of the common public memory of the country, the dissertation shows that memory-making became a new battleground between the three dominant ethno-national elite groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hence, the thesis shows that memory-making was not a process of transnational justice.

The dissertation embodies a number of innovations: it critically assesses and introduces the concept of ‘transitional justice’ into political science, and in doing so bridges nicely legal and political science fields; and by selecting important case studies to analyse collective memory-making contributes to a political science concept of collective memory. Jovana enhances studies about transitional justice by taking a nuanced qualitative approach; the thesis analyses meaning production of ethnic elite groups in the processes of transitional justice and is able to show how ethnicity became an important factor in the peace process. A significant research effort the thesis undermines such assumptions as ‘truth’ being easily detected in processes of transition, but shows how truth is part of on-going hegemonic struggles, paving the way forward to further research.

Finally, the thesis is nicely constructed, the qualitative research has been very well carried-out, and on the whole is a pleasure to read.'

2014 – Carolina Plescia, Trinity College Dublin and Universität Wien

Carolina Plescia

Split-Ticket Voting in Mixed-Member Electoral Systems: A Theoretical and Methodological Investigation

From our Jury 'Carolina's thesis examines the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of split-ticket voting, combining a purely methodological analysis based on the New Zealand and Scottish parliamentary elections, a comparative study across ten mixed-member electoral systems, and two in-depth case studies (Japan and Italy’s regional elections). The dissertation embodies a number of innovations: using both individual and aggregate data (proving, in the process, that a composite approach provides more accurate understanding); a comparative rather than case study approach (though illuminated by the two case studies at the end); separating intentional versus forced split-ticket voting; using the Scottish and New Zealand legislative elections to test the reliability of the predictive model.

Carolina enhances electoral analysis by taking a more nuanced approach that does not rely on intuitive assumptions but real behaviour where it can be measured and evaluated. Her findings are notably similar across countries. She highlights some interesting differences across types of mixed systems and levels of experience with electoral rules. A significant research effort the thesis undermines such assumptions as the one party preference and points the way forward to further research.

The dissertation is elegantly constructed, the quantitative and qualitative research has been well carried-out, and the whole is a pleasure to read.'

2013 – Christian Rauh, Wissenschaftzentrum für Sozialforschung and Freie Universität Berlin

Christian RauhPoliticisation, Issue Salience, and Consumer Policies of the European Commission: Does Public Awareness and Contestation of Supranational Matters Increase the Responsiveness of Europe’s Central Agenda-Setter?

The thesis challenges the image of the EU Commission as a technocratic actor removed from societal and political demands. On the contrary, Rauh’s analysis shows that European elites adapt their decisions to a politicised context. His research provides an insightful account of the European Commission’s approach to policy making, helping us understand better the dynamics of policy development in relation to European integration. The extent of public awareness, issue contestation and salience are shown to constrain the Commission positions, and explain the location of its policy stance between laissez-faire and interventionism in consumer and market regulation. Christian's research design nicely combines public-opinion and public-policy analyses, relying on multiple sources (including public opinion surveys, media analysis, elite interviews, and process tracing) which produce compelling evidence for the conditions (when? why? how?) that promote EU institutions’ responsiveness to European citizens.

2012 – Didier Caluwaerts, Vrije Universiteit Brussels

Didier CaluwaertsConfrontation and Communication: Experiments on Deliberative Democracy in Linguistically Divided Belgium

Didier's dissertation asks whether exercises in deliberative democracy in deeply divided societies reduce political conflict. Specifically, it examines whether different institutional rules affect the quality of deliberative democracy. Based on a highly innovative experimental research design, whereby small groups of people from the different linguistic communities in Belgium were brought together to debate contentious political issues, he finds that the quality of deliberative democracy was as high in discussions held between linguistically divided groups as in those between homogenous groups. He also finds that group decision-making rules were good predictors of deliberative quality in linguistically homogeneous groups, but were less so in divided groups. The jury was particularly impressed with the very careful research design and the clarity of the writing style, which makes the thesis accessible to a professional and a wider audience.

2012 – Julian Wucherpfennig, ETH Zürich

Julian WucherpfennigFighting for Change: Onset, Duration, and Recurrence of Ethnic Conflict

Julian’s dissertation examines the role of ethnicity in the onset, duration and recurrence of civil wars. It proposes a theoretically grounded grievance-based model in which the systematic denial of state benefits on the basis of ethnicity creates a collective demand for political change that can lead to conflict. It then submits this model to rigorous empirical testing and finds support for it. The jury was impressed by the way in which Julian identified the potential impact of his findings. In contrast to much of the existing scholarship, which assumes that grievances are constant and ethnic conflict is inevitable, Julian’s work suggests that if grievances can be accommodated, then conflict can be avoided.

2011 – Virginie Van Ingelgom, UC Louvain

Integrating Indifference

Virginie Van IngelgomIntegrating Indifference: A Comparative, Qualitative and Quantitative Approach to the Legitimacy of European Integration

From our Jury 'Virginie's dissertation is innovative and sophisticated in dealing with the EU legitimacy issue. It is written in a clear and effective style, appealing both to a specialist readership and a wider audience. The thesis advances our existing knowledge of the European Union in significant respects, bringing together elements of political theory, empirical analysis of opinions and attitudes, and the study of regional integration processes all of which bear on the issue of legitimacy. It distinguishes itself by a deft combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, as well as its attention to both the macro and the micro dimensions of its topic. Virgnie examines the political legitimacy of European integration from an ‘internal’ perspective, focusing on citizens’ subjective perceptions, and their acceptance of, or resistance to, the process of European integration. Distinguishing itself from other literature on this issue, her thesis attempts to analyse and make political sense of the indifference that many citizens have towards integration, by treating this valid reaction rather than a residual state somewhere between acceptance and rejection.'

Virginie's dissertation was originally published in French as Intégrer l’indifférence: Une approche comparative, qualitative et quantitative, de la légitimité de l’intégration européenne 

2010 – Paul Gill, University College Dublin

Paul GillThe Dynamics of Suicide Bombing in Campaigns of Political Violence

From our Jury 'The dissertation is well written, engaging and appealing to a wide audience. Its approach is innovative, connecting different areas of political research, and based on solid empirical evidence. It scored high on all criteria, such as research innovation, methodological awareness, knowledge accumulation, research effort and clarity of execution. The thesis offers a new and complex perspective of the 'culture of martyrdom' underlying political experiences of suicide bombing. It proposes a multi-dimensional and interactive model of how such culture emerges and is fostered, mixing psychological, organisational and cultural levels of analysis, and borrowing from a variety of literatures such as social identity and social movement theories. It attempts to confirm its thesis by counterfactual arguments, and addresses a political problem of topical relevance.'

2009 – Daniel Mügge

Widen The Market Narrow The Competition Book Cover

Daniel MueggeWiden the Market, Narrow the Competition: The Emergence of Supranational Governance in EU Capital Markets

From our Jury 'Daniel's dissertation is extremely well written, fascinating and timely. An excellent dissertation in international political economy, addressing a key issue concerning the supranationalisation of governance: How can we best understand changes in patterns of governance in relation to shifting market structures?'

The thesis was developed into a book, published in 2010 by ECPR Press as Widen the Market, Narrow the Competition.

2008 – Silja Häusermann, European University Institute

Silja HaeusermannAnalysing the Adaptation of Continental Welfare States to Post-Industrial Risk Structures

2007 – Tanja Aalberts, Leiden University

Tanja AalbertsPolitics of Sovereignty

2006 – Daniel Naurin, University of Gothenburg

Widen The Market, Narrow The Competition
Daniel NaurinDressed for Politics: Why increasing Transparency in the European Union Will Not Make Lobbyists Behave Any Better than they Already Do

A revised version was published by ECPR Press in 2007 as Deliberation Behind Closed Doors.

2005 – Laura Morales, Universidad de Murcia

Joining Political Organisations, Laura Morales
Laura MoralesInstitutions, Mobilisation, and Political Participation: Political Membership in Western Countries

A developed version was published by ECPR Press in 2008 as Joining Political Organisations.

2004 – Kevin Casas Zamora, University of Oxford

Paying for Democracy
Kevin Casas-ZamoraPaying for Democracy in Latin America: Political Finance and State Funding for Parties in Costa Rica and Uruguay

Kevin's thesis has since been developed into a book, published by ECPR Press in 2005 as Paying for Democracy.