Giovanni Capoccia

MA Laurea Rome I, PhD EUI Florence

Professor of Comparative Politics, DPIR
Fellow, Corpus Christi College
Government and Politics Network
Corpus Christi College
other links
Office address
Fellows' Building, 2, 8

I am Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations and Fellow in Politics at Corpus Christi College.


My research focuses on democracy and democratization, democratic backsliding, political institutions, political extremism, and European politics.

A major theme of my research is the analysis of the causes and consequences of the strategies used by democratic governments to control extremist dissent. My work on democratic crises in inter-war Europe has been published in several journals and a research monograph entitled Defending Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press 2005, paperback 2007), which received the APSA Award for the Best Book in European Politics.

A second theme of my research is democratization. I have co-edited the collection The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies, published as a double special issue of Comparative Political Studies in 2010. The volume proposes a new research agenda for the study of democratization in Europe and elsewhere, focused on the dynamics of institutional change.

Finally, I have recently completed a project on the impact of democratic attitudes of different transitional justice policies, which focuses on the historical case of West Germany after 1945. The results have been published in Comparative Political Studies and in Comparative Politics (forthcoming).

This and other work has earned several other publication prizes, including the Sage Award for the Best Paper in Comparative Politics; the Sage Award for the Best Paper in Qualitative Methods; the Alexander George Award for the Best Article Developing and Applying Qualitative and Multiple Methods; the Award for the Best Paper in Comparative Democratization; and the Mary Parker Follett Award for the Best Article in Politics and History, all from the American Political Science Association.

I have held a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship and a Leverhume Trust Major Research Fellowship, as well as visiting positions in several academic institutions including the University of Heidelberg, the University of California at Berkeley, the Max-Planck-Institute in Comparative Law (Heidelberg), the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard, where I was the Rita E. Hauser Fellow.

I am currently working on two projects. One project, in collaboration with Prof. Isabela Mares (Yale), analyzes how liberal democracies can counter backsliding. We held project conferences both at Oxford and Yale, and plan to finalize a collective volume soon. A second project is a research monograph on how postwar Western European democracies have restricted the extreme right.

I welcome inquiries from potential graduate students interested in pursuing MPhil or doctoral projects on democratization, political extremism in democracies, democratic backsliding, and transitional justice, in particular in the context of European political development.

View Giovanni Capoccia's personal webpage.


Research interests

Constitutions, Institutions and Governments, Elections and electoral politics, Comparative Politics and Government, Democracy and Democratisation, Historical approaches to Political Analysis.


  • Democracy and political extremism

  • Democratic crises and democratic backsliding

  • European Politics



Case Study Research (graduate seminar) (2007-present)

Research Design in Comparative Politics (graduate lectures) (2007-)

Comparative Government (M.Phil. in Comparative Government-- 2003-current)

Comparative Methodology (graduate lectures) (2002-2005)

Comparative European Politics (M.Phil. in European Politics and Society) (2001-2003)


Lectures, Party systems and coalition-making in Western Europe (Paper 206: The Politics and Government of Western Europe).

Department Administrative Roles

Course provider, The Politics and Government of Western Europe (2002-2006), Comparative Government (2012-2014)

Graduate Examiners’ Board, 2002-2005; 2011-2014

Director of Research, 2007-2011

Chair of Graduate Examiners, 2013-2014

Director, MPhil in Comparative Government, 2017-2019

Convenor, Comparative Politics Research Network, 2020-2022

Giovanni Capoccia



The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies, double special issue of Comparative Political Studies, August-September 2010, Vol. 43, 8/9 (co-edited with D. Ziblatt).

Defending Democracy: Reactions to extremism in Interwar Europe, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005, pages 352 (paperback, 2007)

Unified Germany between Continuity and Renewal. The German Electoral and Party System during the Process of National Reunification (in Italian), Rome, Bulzoni, 1995, pages 490.

Selected articles and book chapters

“Trying Perpetrators: Denazification Trials and Support for Democracy in West Germany” (with G. Pop-Eleches), Comparative Politics, forthcoming

"Democracy and Retribution: Transitional Justice and Regime Support in Post-War West Germany" (with G. Pop-Eleches), Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 53, n. 3/4, March 2020, pp. 399-433.

"Militant Democracy and the Study of Political Tolerance", in Kirshner, Alexander, and Anthoula Malkopoulou (eds.), Militant Democracy and its Critics. Populism, Parties, Extremism, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2019, pp. 133-149.

"When Do Institutions Bite? Historical Institutionalism and the Politics of Institutional Change", Comparative Political Studies, 2016, 49/8, 1095-1127.

“Critical Junctures”, in Fioretos, O., Falleti, T. and A. Sheingate, eds., Oxford Handbook on Historical Institutionalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, 95-108

“Critical Junctures and Institutional Change”, in Mahoney, J. and K. Thelen, eds., Advances in Comparative Historical Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, 147-179.

“The Study of Democratization and the Arab Spring” (with A. Ahmed), Middle East Law and Governance, 6, 1, 2014, 1-39.

"Militant Democracy: The Institutional Bases of Democratic Self-Preservation", Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences, 9, 2013, 207-226.

"When State Responses Fail: Religion and Secessionism in India 1952-2002" (with L.D.Saez and E. de Rooij), The Journal of Politics, October 2012, Vol. 74, 4, 1010-1022.

"The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies: A New Research Agenda for Europe and Beyond", Comparative Political Studies, August-September 2010, Vol. 43, 8/9, 931-968.

"Germanys Response to 9/11: The Persistence of Constitutional Traditions", in M. Crenshaw (ed.) The Consequences of Counterterrorist Policies in Democracies, New York, Russell Sage Foundation, 2010, 285-334.

"The Study of Critical Junctures: Theory, Narrative and Counterfactuals in Institutional Analysis" (with R. D. Kelemen), World Politics, April 2007, 341-369.

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