Petra Schleiter

BSc MPhil DPhil

Joint Head of Department and Professor of Comparative Politics, DPIR
Tutorial Fellow, St Hilda's College
Government and Politics Network
Oxford Constitutional Studies Forum
St Hilda's College

I am a Professor of Comparative Politics and a Tutorial Fellow of St Hilda’s College. I am also affiliated with the Constitution Unit at University College London, where I am a Fellow. Currently, I serve as joint Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations (2020-24, together with Nicholas Owen), and as an Executive Editor of the British Journal of Political Science.

As joint Head of Department, my remit includes finance, research, the REF, the department's relations with Division and key aspects of academic HR, including recognition of distinction and the award of titles. I am also the interim equality and diversity lead. Nick leads on teaching and courses, non-academic HR, communications, building matters, and health and safety. He also represents the Department on the Divisional Board. We share responsibility for academic recruitment and staff review and development, strategic planning, fundraising, governance, and risk management. 


My research interests straddle three broad areas: comparative political institutions, political parties, and voter attitudes and behaviour. My work on comparative political institutions explores fundamental institutional variation in developed democracies, such as voter ID, fixed and flexible election timing, confidence procedures, rules of government formation and termination, parliamentary prorogation, constitutional change, and the powers of executive presidents. I examine how leaders use these rules to exercise power, advance policy, and achieve re-election.

My second area of expertise is party political competition. Party competition affects how clearly responsibility can be attributed to incumbents and how easy it is to hold them to account. This has consequences for a range of outcomes, including which parties succeed electorally and for governmental corruption. Party competition also shapes major cross-national waves of policy diffusion and programmatic re-orientation, such as the turn to third-way Social Democracy, economic neo-liberalism, and the backlash against foreign populist incumbents. My work has examined all of these outcomes.

My third area of expertise is voter attitudes and behaviour, where my work explores the voter-level mechanisms that shape support for incumbents and the effectiveness of mainstream politicians’ interventions to counter anti-democratic appeals and associated attitudes such as hostility to immigrants and gender-stereotypes.

My research has been published in PLOS One, the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, World Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Political Science Research and Methods, International Studies Quarterly, Party Politics, European Journal of Political Research and elsewhere.


Please download Petra Schleiter's CV (PDF) to see her latest publications.