Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professor of European and Eurasian Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan
Welcome! I am a professor in the Department of Political Science and the director of the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan. My research interests include political parties, state development and transformation, informal political institutions, religion and politics, and post-communist politics.
In my first book, I examined the paradox of the communist successor parties in East Central Europe: incompetent as authoritarian rulers of the communist party-state, several then succeeded as democratic competitors after the collapse of these communist regimes in 1989.
My second book investigated the role of political parties and party competition in the reconstruction of the post-communist state. Unless checked by a robust competition, democratic governing parties simultaneously rebuilt the state and ensured their own survival by building in enormous discretion into new state institutions.
My most recent book project, currently in press, examines why some churches have been able to wield enormous policy influence. Others have failed to do so, even in very religious countries. Where religious and national identities have historically fused, churches gained great moral authority, and subsequently covert and direct access to state institutions. It was this access, rather than either partisan coalitions or electoral mobilization, that allowed some churches to become so powerful.
Other areas of interest include informal institutions, the impact of European Union membership on domestic politics in the newer member countries, and the role of temporality and causal mechanisms in social science explanations.
Please contact me if you have any questions.